by Brandy Abalos

While many fresh foods are available year-round throughout the United States, companies usually have those products shipped from far away. Shipping out-of-season foods to a location is a relatively new practice. Not long ago, families could only eat the fresh produce available in their area at a given time. Even though picking up those out-of-season fruits and vegetables is easy, there are lots of benefits to buying in-season.

In-Season Produce Tastes Better

When fruits and vegetables are shipped long distances, farmers typically pick them before they are fully ripe. They are refrigerated during transportation and artificially ripened before they go on the shelves. This process dramatically reduces flavor. Fruits and vegetables that have been allowed to ripen naturally and harvested at the right time taste better overall. Harvesting and shipping methods also impact the food’s texture.

In-Season Produce is Cheaper

When farmers have an abundance of an item, the cost goes down. Additionally, the shipping price for shorter distances is lower, allowing the price for the consumer to be lower.

In-Season Produce has a Higher Nutritional Value

Shipping and storing methods often reduce the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. When food is not allowed to ripen, it does not develop its full nutritional potential.

When and What to Buy In Season

Knowing what to buy and when can take time and effort. Different items are in season in a geographic area at any given time. One of the easiest ways to know what’s in season is to shop at local businesses, particularly farmers’ markets or small marketplaces that buy from local farms. Doing so is the best way to get high-quality, in-season produce from that area. Food co-ops are another good option. Members of cooperatives pay a monthly, seasonal or annual fee to get in-season produce and other products. Some allow members to select what they want, or the farmers may select the best products for each member.

Review a Seasonal Food Guide Online

Several food guides offer specific information about what is available in each geographic area during all seasons of the year.

Eating In-Season Produce Benefits a Family’s Health and Pocketbook

It’s beneficial to eat produce that is in season. Some may worry that their options will be scarce during the winter months. However, there is produce available at all times of the year throughout the United States. In-season produce is usually healthier, more cost-effective and better for the local economy.