by Shannon Spence
Buy organic. Go raw. Shop local. We’re constantly inundated with messages surrounding the food we buy, from the grocery store to the vegan restaurant down the street. So how do we really know that what we’re buying (and eventually eating) is actually good for us?
A good rule of thumb - according to all grandmas, hippies and health experts out there - is to eat what’s in season. Seasons provide natural guidelines and encourage diversity for healthy eating. By following the natural growth patterns of fruits, vegetables and spices, it’s likely we’ll consume tastier, more nutrient-rich foods and save money in the meantime.
Out-of-season foods often translate to produce that’s short on nutritional content and bad news for the environment, mainly because it’s been shipped or driven from a location far from you or grown in a greenhouse. To enjoy the full nourishment of food – and save the planet while you’re at it – make your menu a seasonal one. Here are a few ways to go about it.
Know what you’re buying
The tricky part with buying in season is that it differs depending on where you’re located geographically. A seasonal ingredient map will tell you what produce to buy right now. Just click on your state, and voila, a list of what’s growing in your region pops up. Even better – you get cooking tips and recipe ideas for each fruit and veggie.
Grow your own garden
Once you’ve studied up on what’s in season, why not plant your own garden? Keep in mind there is a learning curve to getting the light and soil conditions right, which can be tricky. Ask the experts at your local nursery or garden center for tips and tricks. They’re usually more than happy to help.
Join a CSA
Community Supported Agriculture programs, or CSAs, are another great way to eat with the seasons. In addition to helping you eat a well-rounded diet, being part of a CSA supports local farmers who grow produce organically. That means no GMOs (genetically modified organisms)! When you buy into a CSA, you receive a supply of whatever produce is growing at that time. Expect to get some unusual items you may not be used to preparing, which is part of the fun.
Not ready to grow your own garden?
Start with herbs. They’re easy to manage and help you get in the habit of plant maintenance. House plants work too (and they’re hard to kill!).