A Guide to Eating Seasonally – What’s in Season When?

Since summer is almost over and we’re entering the fall season here in VA I thought now would be the perfect time to write about eating seasonally.

Seasonal, local produce is fresher, it tastes better, and it’s production and transportation have a smaller impact on the environment. As far as money goes, locally grown seasonal produce is usually cheaper than the items grown out of season. In addition, the money you spend is going back into the local community.

Eating unseasonal foods every once in a while isn’t going to hurt you, but eating them on a consistent basis isn’t the ideal way to get the right nutrients for your body or to protect the environment. There’s a reason we don’t crave salads everyday in the winter – our bodies need the vitamins and minerals in the foods that are in season during this time. For instance, less sun exposure during the winter months may cause the need for extra consumption of foods high in vitamin D such as fatty fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals.

The best way to find out what’s in season in your area during a particular time, simply visit a local farmer’s market or produce stand. Whatever you see in abundance at the market is typically in season. Although, this isn’t always the case considering there is a vendor at one of my local markets that sells bananas with the stickers on them. Not quite sure why he thinks that’s a good idea. But back to my point – farmers markets rock and they really are a great place to buy local, seasonal food. Plus, you can chat with the farmer – find out if the farm grows organically or without spray, ask how to best prepare an item you aren’t familiar with, or even see if the farm gives tours.

So to cut to the chase – here’s a quick guide of what produce is available during each of the seasons. Of course seasonality is different depending on your exact location so take this guide with a grain of locally harvested sea salt:

IMG_0878.JPG

Spring:

Artichokes, arugula, watercress, asparagus, young chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, cherries, spinach, parsley

Focus: Eat your greens!

IMG_2091.JPG

Summer:

Berries, eggplant, cauliflower, avocado, figs, fennel, green beans, tomatoes, peaches, apricots, plums, lettuce, peppers

Focus: Hydrating and cooling

IMG_2793.JPG

Fall:

Apples, pears, brussels sprouts, winter squash, pumpkin, persimmons, garlic, carrots, kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower

Focus: Storing energy and building immunity

IMG_1150.JPG

Winter:

Broccoli rabe, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, kale, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, sunchokes, beets

Focus: Warming foods

What season features your favorite foods? Summer and Fall produce are my favorites – I LOVE tomatoes, summer squash berries, butternut squash, kale, apples and pumpkin.

Links and Tidbits (some are related to the topic, others not so much):

  • Find out what foods are in season in your area
  • Check out this map that lists what produce is in season by state
  • Need some fall recipe inspiration? I recently posted a Fall Healthy Recipe Roundup
  • My next post will have a delicious fall recipe that you’re bound to love.
  • I updated my side-bar image with one that’s more recent, let me know what you think. If you’re reading through a reader, you’ll have to click over to see it. 🙂
  • Thursday, September 29th at 9pm EST: Courtney, Heather, Julie and I are doing a #Fitblog webinar presentation. We’re going to be presenting the same info we talked about during our Rising Above the Negativity Panel at the Healthy Living Summit, so if you were interested in hearing our thoughts but were unable to attend HLS, now’s your chance! All you have to do is register online by going here spots are limited, so register soon!
  • Recommendation: Watch Mod Fam tonight! You’ll quickly learn why it’s my favorite TV show.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    28 comments
  1. This is a super helpful post – I wanted to know more about seasonal eating but didn’t want to read a book! Epicurious’ map is fantastic too – now I know, I can adjust and eat seasonally – Thank you!!!!

  2. I’m all for eating locally and in season when you can, because the food is fresher and has more nutrients than foods that have traveled a long distance to get to you. But I don’t know that there is any scientific basis to say “we crave seasonal foods because we need those vitamins and minerals”. We actually need the same vitamins & minerals all year long. And the only vitamin where seasonality may come into play depending on where you live is Vitamin D. So I find that an odd way to argue one should eat locally and seasonally.

  3. I LOVE this guide! So informative….I will definitely be more aware of eating seasonally. One thing I hafta have year-round though….avocados. And those puppies do NOT grow in New Jersey!!! Luckily, we have some of the best local produce and farmer’s markets in the nation! Garden State, baby.

  4. first: MODERN FAMILY!! I’m so excited!! I don’t even have a tv, but I know it’ll be up online soon! haha.

    second: I love how diverse the food is in different areas… your seasonal fresh fruit + veg looks so different than mine in Hawai`i [I could only wish for fresh pears or peaches that haven’t been shipped thousands of miles!]. Each place has so much to offer!

  5. I can’t pick a favorite-there’s something every season that gets me excited for a change in food. That’s they fun in eating seasonally, there’s something to look forward to with each change 🙂

  6. I love that site with the map of what is in season my state! I haven’t lived in TX for that long and even though most people are eating “fall” foods its stil 90 degrees here! I love fall foods” pumpkin apples and brussel sprouts top the list.

  7. Yay for Mod Fam! So excited! I really try to eat seasonally (if only I could give up avocados during the winter). It’s hard to choose my favorite, but I’d probably have to pick summer because of all the fresh berries.

  8. I love this post, Brittany! I feel sort of dumb that I didn’t really know that about not craving salads in the winter, but it makes total sense. I also love how the seasonal produce focuses on what your body needs for that season. So awesome!

    Enjoy MF! 😀

  9. Great post! After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ( a great resource for this kind of info) a couple of years ago, I always try to keep this in mind while shopping. It pains me to see people buying asparagus now when I know it’s coming from thousands of miles away!

  10. loved this! so helpful, thanks 🙂 i read an article once about a family who ONLY ate what was in season. they did a lot of research, so if certain apples were being sold in december but their “season” was may, they didn’t eat them. it was really interesting to see how many foods i eat that actually aren’t technically in season. oh an a note about “local” – i think definitions of local are really interesting. for instance, “local” to whole foods means 6 hours away or less. SIX HOURS! that is definitely not my definition of it. also, a honey distributor at my farmer’s market described local as being in the same climate or elevation, so it could be states away….weird.

  11. Great advice. I’ve always loved farmer’s markets but just started really focusing on eating seasonal and local around this time last year. It really does make a huge difference in how my body feels – healthy and satisfied.
    I loved this line “so take this guide with a grain of locally harvested sea salt,” so clever! And I’m pretty pumped about modern family tonight too!

  12. Great post! I love my farmer’s market, and it’s open all year round (and only a 5 min walk from my apt – score!). Eating seasonally is a great way to get the right nutrients for your body, and it just feels great to support local farmers and get fresh, organic food (not the food that has traveled a week from New Zealand and ends up in your grocery store).

Subscribe + get eating!

Grab your Free 3 Day Clean Eating Meal Plan

Subscribe to our list and get your free printable PDF of the 3 Day Clean Eating Meal Plan and Shopping List!