Blog post written by Breanna Tucker, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
Image from experiencelife.lifetime.life/article/in-season
Indiana is only warm for a few months out of the year. This means that most produce cannot be grown all year round. With summer coming up, there will be lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in season and available at farmer’s markets and in different grocery stores.
What does "in season" mean?
Eating in season means that you are eating what is grown during the current time of year. Thankfully, due to modern technology and transportation, most options at the grocery store stay the same year-round. However, the items in season will change according to the month. It’s important to know that eating seasonally does not necessarily mean that you are eating organically.
What are the benefits of eating produce in season?
There are a lot of benefits to eating different fruits and vegetables that are in season. One benefit is the price. When crops are in season, farmers will produce more of them, which brings the cost down. The travel expenses are also lower because the produce is usually coming locally instead of coming from different states or countries.
Another benefit includes the nutritional value. When produce is in season, it is often picked when it is ripe and eaten close to its harvest date. This increases the amount of nutrients in the fruit or vegetable. For example, a bell pepper picked locally in season may have more antioxidants than a bell pepper picked early and shipped across the country. Antioxidants like vitamin C protect the body against harmful compounds and can help prevent many diseases.
Another benefit is that eating seasonally is better for the environment. It supports local farmers and reduces the need for out of season produce. This will then reduce transportation, refrigeration, and some of the preservatives used on different fruits and vegetables.
Image from indianapublicmedia.org/eartheats/walmart-commits-local-growers.php
How do I know what produce in season?
There are a lot of lists online of what produce is in season during specific times of the year. One great resource is Purdue University’s FoodLink, which includes recipes and preparation tips for seasonal produce items.
Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that are in season during the summer in Indiana:
Image from www.dallasnews.com/sponsored/2019/12/27/your-seasonal-calendar-for-the-freshest-texas-produce-all-year-infographic-included
Is eating seasonally right for me?
Eating seasonally may not be the most realistic option for you and your family and that is okay. Maybe the weather makes it difficult for there to be many seasonal options or your kid will only eat certain fruits or vegetables. Maybe your nearest grocery store, market, or food pantry does not offer seasonal produce. At the end of the day, do what is right for you and your family. Eating any fruits and vegetables is better than none!
Farmers' markets are a great option for seasonal foods. There are several farmers' market programs that can increase the purchasing power of households that receive SNAP, WIC, and other benefits. SNAP offers FreshBucks, which doubles your SNAP dollars to use at the market. WIC offers the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, which provides coupons for fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program offers similar assistance to eligible seniors.
If you think eating seasonally may be right for you, try to incorporate one item from the list above into your next grocery store list. This can help add some variety into your weekly meals, and you may discover new foods you enjoy!
Staff Registered Dietitians at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns