While we might not be in the peak season for fresh fruits and vegetables right now, it might be the time to start thinking about the options that will soon become available. Buying produce locally and in season can have many different benefits to not only your health but also your budget.
Peak Season Taste
In-season fruit and vegetables are picked and sold during their peak of flavor. And, if delivered locally, transportation time can be minimized, which eliminates the need for preservation processes that can negatively impact flavor. Also, the bland taste of off-season produce may make us more likely to add things like salt, sugar, butter and sauces to enhance their flavor.
Another perk in choosing local/in-season produce is its nutritional impact. In one study, researchers compared the vitamin C content in in-season broccoli (picked locally) with that of off-season broccoli (shipped from another country) and found that the off-season shipment contained only about half of the vitamin C found in the local, in-season variety (Wunderlich et al., 2008).
There’s a growing “locavore” movement, which involves a push to stimulate local economy by purchasing products from small, nearby suppliers. This ensures the freshest in-season produce at a price that doesn’t need to factor in storage and long-distance distribution. Neighborhood farmer’s markets are great places to check out fresh-picked produce with varieties that you’re not likely to find in large commercial supermarkets.
Another option for getting fresh, organic and locally grown produce might be joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organization. Joining a CSA is a convenient way to have access to the freshest produce, grown organically in your community. To join a CSA, you purchase a “share” of the farm. In return, you receive weekly deliveries of produce throughout the growing season, typically late May through November, depending on your location.
Costs to You
Share price to join a CSA varies per program, based on length of season, crops grown, labor costs and other factors. When joining, you typically pay for the entire season upfront and some farms offer “worker shares” in which members work on the farm in exchange for produce. Beyond that, some CSAs offer payment plans and financial assistance to help with the cost of being a member. In the end, CSA members receive fresh produce while supporting local business owners.
Crome, G. (2014, March 19). Why to Buy Produce In-Season. Retrieved January 22, 2015, from http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/3783/why-to-buy-produce-in-season/
Support Your Local Farmer. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2015, from https://hylant.accountportal.net/Library/FullDocumentLibrary/tabid/125440/Default.aspx