Eating Seasonally and Locally
Amy: Today, we’re talking “Eat Seasonally and Locally.” Hello, I’m Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm & Family.Today, we’re speaking with Bobbi Qu, Mississippi State University dietetic intern in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion.
Bobbi, can you tell our listeners about what seasonality means in food?
Bobbi: Seasonality of food refers to the times of year when a given type food is at its peak, either in terms of harvest or its flavor. This is usually the time when the item is the cheapest and the freshest on the market. The food’s peak time in terms of harvest usually coincides with when its flavor is at its best. But there are some exceptions too such as some foods are best eaten quite a while after harvest.
Amy: Now that we know what seasonal food is, why should we start eating seasonally and locally?
Bobbi: Eating seasonally means including foods in your diet that are grown at the same time of the year you eat them. There are many benefits to eating locally grown foods in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables retain more nutrients than their counterparts making them the better choice for your health. On the other hand, foods that are out of season are often covered in pesticides, waxes, and preservatives in order to maintain their fresh appearance. Also, when fruits and vegetables are shipped, flown, or trucked long distances, they must be picked before they are ripe so that they can survive the journey. As a result, this produce is often less nutritious and less tasty, uses more fuel, and causes more pollution than locally grown produce. Other benefits of eating seasonally include supporting your local farmers who choose to farm sustainably, preserving the environment, having a broader variety of foods in your diet, and saving your wallet since seasonal foods are cheaper to produce and cheaper to buy when they are in season!
Amy:Okay, so how do we eat seasonally?
Bobbi: Depending on where you live, different good stuff will be in season at different times. To determine the best time to buy certain fruits and vegetables, it’s best to know the peak seasons for each type. Eating foods that are in-season. So, whether you live in Mississippi or California, eating seasonal instantly means you eat sustainably, locally, with more flavor and greater nutrient density.
Amy: What foods are in season right now?
Bobbi: Remember, seasonal produce in your area will vary by growing conditions and weather. But here are some springtime foods: apples, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, kale, kiwifruit, lemons, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, pineapples, radishes, spinach, strawberries, swiss chard, turnips.
Amy: Okay, since you mentioned about Farmers’ Market, what are the benefits of shopping at a local Farmers’ Market?
Bobbi: Buying from your local farmer allows you to support local agriculture. You are eating food in your environment, where it has perfectly-created nutrients for your specific climate and region. You can also find a variety of fresh, seasonal produce at more affordable prices than in a supermarket. There are many farmers that carry low-priced products which are pesticide and herbicide free. By shopping at the local farmers market, you will eat seasonally, fresh and ripe. This is a great way to increase your overall health. And there is usually an amazing variety of fruits and veggies at local farmers market.
Amy:Can you give us some tips to shop smarter at the Farmers’ Market?
Bobbi: Shopping at Farmers’ Market is the easiest way to eat locally. You know where the food comes from. Know your seasons. Learn what grows in your area. Knowing which fruits and veggies are in season can help you net the best deals. Also, today I would like to introduce to you the genuine Mississippi program. The genuine Mississippi logo identifies Mississippi products, and whenever customers see that brand, they’ll know that the products are locally grown, raised, crafted and made. When you see the Genuine MS brand, you will know the produce is grown fresh and flavorful and those crafted goods were created by local artisans and craftsmen. This plays a big part in helping our state economy to grow.
Amy: Where can we go for more information about eating seasonally and locally and buying fresh and seasonal produce at Farmers’ Markets?
Bobbi: Visit extension-dot-m-s-state-dot-edu, and under the “Agriculture” tab, click on “Local Flavor” and then “Farmers Markets.” Mississippi State University Extension has a wide variety of information from experts in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion.
Amy: Today, we’ve been speaking with Bobbi Qu, Mississippi State University dietetic intern in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion. I’m Amy Myers, and this has been Farm & Family. Have a great day!