In my previous Healthy Harvest post, I discussed the drive behind my efforts towards eating cleaner and healthier. In an effort to make this move more manageable, I’ve added small, simple changes every couple of weeks. One of those changes is increasing my fruit and vegetable consumption. I’ve always loved to garden, but these changes have only inspired me to learn more and grow more.
Although it is possible to buy non-seasonal fruits and vegetables at your local grocer, here is why it is wiser to purchase them seasonally. Non-local fruits and vegetables have to travel long distances and are often picked early, leaving them lacking in flavor and nutrition. Chemicals and preservatives are then added to make them look better and last longer.
Eating what is in season is not only beneficial in the quality of the produce you consume but also the price. It often correspond to our body’s seasonal needs as well. When seasonal fruits and vegetables are allowed to fully ripen before they are picked, they are at their peak for nutritional value. In addition, anything grown in season will also be plentiful and therefore less expensive.
If possible, having your own garden is your best best – you’ll know exactly what went into the ground and exactly what you harvested. If gardening isn’t your thing, there are other local options to try.
The local Farmer’s Market is the first place I like to go for the freshest selection of items I don’t grow myself. It’s also a great way to support your local farmers and speak directly with them about their growing process. More and more communities are starting to offer year-round indoor markets as well. Another great option is a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group. I’ve looked into a few of these around the Hudson Valley, but have not been directly involved with one yet.
Many of us, especially those in the northeast, have a limited growing season and simply cannot eat locally all of the time. When local, farm fresh isn’t an option, your best bet is to purchase what’s in season at your local market. Finding a health food store in your area is worth the extra effort. They generally purchase from local farmers and do a lot of the investigative work for you about their growing practices. Ask questions!
Although these steps may not be possible all the time, making small changes a little at a time, can have big benefits. So if you can only shop at the local grocers, buy seasonal or frozen, and ALWAYS wash everything thoroughly before preparing.
Here are links to some of my favorite places to shop in the Hudson Valley:
- Hudson Valley Farmer’s Markets
- Nature’s Pantry
- Sprout Creek Farm
- Common Ground Farm
- Sister’s Hill Farm
To find out what’s harvested seasonally in your area, go to www.localharvest.org to find farmers’ markets near you and seasonal produce guides.