Naturopathic Kitchen: Seasonal Food Guide

A woman shopping at a farmers' market.

Why Eat Seasonally?

Seasonal eating refers to the practice of aligning your diet with the seasons by choosing fruits and vegetables when they are in abundance and at their peak freshness. This approach to eating emphasizes local and sustainable agriculture, as it encourages people to support regional farmers and reduces the environmental impact associated with long-distance transportation of out-of-season produce. 1 Seasonal eating also promotes a diverse and well-balanced diet, as different seasons offer a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

Studies show that the longer a piece of produce takes to get from farm to table, the more nutrition it loses. 2 Out-of-season produce has to typically be grown far away, where the climate permits. This means that the long journey from where the out-of-season produce is grown to your local grocery store often results in a significant reduction in nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and more. 3 4 Because fruits and vegetables that are in season are able to be grown locally, they tend to be more nutrient dense.

Not only is locally-grown, in-season produce healthier for you, it tastes better and is more affordable, too. Produce that does not have to travel far to be sold and consumed is generally more flavorful and can be sold at a lower price point because the cost of transporting does not factor in as much as it does for produce that has to be brought in from across the globe. 5 6 

 

Pro Tips for Seasonal Eating

Go to Your Local Farmers’ Market

When possible, go to your local farmers’ market to buy produce. Farmers’ markets offer a direct connection between consumers and local farmers, providing a transparent and traceable source for fresh, seasonal produce. Anything you find at a farmers’ market is going to have been grown locally, which means it is in season. Not only that, but in some cases you can find produce that is more affordable than at organic grocery stores. This is because selling directly to the consumer allows the grower to bypass intermediary expenses and sell their goods at a lower price.

Look for “Local” Labels on Supermarket Produce

When shopping at a farmers’ market isn’t possible, you can still track down some excellent seasonal produce that has been grown locally at your supermarket. Check the labels on fruit and vegetables and opt for those that say “local” on them – these have been grown nearby and are in season.

Sign Up for a Local Produce Box Subscription

There are also many local companies that deliver seasonal produce boxes right to your door on a monthly or weekly basis. These companies often focus on “imperfect” looking fruits and vegetables that are perfectly good to eat but may not be sold in grocery stores for aesthetic reasons. Because of this, seasonal produce boxes are often more affordable.

Choose Produce That is Abundant

Seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to be abundant and easy to acquire, so you’ll see a lot of them at your grocery store. Have you ever noticed in the summer when you walk into the grocery store and the produce section seems to be overflowing with tomatoes? That is because they are in season and readily available. Take a look around your grocery store and start by choosing the fruit and vegetables that seem to be most plentiful.

Some grocery stores also display their seasonal produce right where you walk into the entrance, so keep an eye out and take advantage of seasonal specials.

Make Seasonal Meal Plans

A great way to get in the habit of eating seasonally is to make meal plans that use seasonal fruits and vegetables. Take a look at our seasonal food guide below and look up recipes that use the produce of each season. Once you have your list of recipes, you can make a seasonal meal plan using ingredients that are easy to find, healthy, and affordable. Save your seasonal meal plans and use them again next year.

 

Seasonal Food Guide

Seasonal eating can be challenging if you do not know when certain fruits and vegetables are in season. Here is a simple guide with seasonal produce categorized by when they are at their peak to make grocery shopping by season easy.

*Note that the timing of what is in season differs around the world. This list is based on seasonality across the majority of the United States/North America.

Spring Seasonal Produce

  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Chives
  • Spring onions
  • Rhubarb
  • Garlic scapes
  • Fiddlehead ferns
  • Artichokes
  • Fava beans
  • Peas
  • Apricots
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach

Summer Seasonal Produce

  • Tomatoes
  • Green beans
  • Peaches
  • Corn
  • Melons
  • Plums
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants
  • Herbs
  • Zucchini
  • Figs
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

Fall Seasonal Produce

  • Squash
  • Pumpkins
  • Chard
  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Arugula
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Turnips

Winter Seasonal Produce

  • Winter squash
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Clementines
  • Pears

If you are interested in eating seasonally and want a little more guidance, talk to a naturopathic doctor (ND). An ND will work with you to come up with a seasonal eating plan that provides you with enough nutrients and supports your individual lifestyle and health requirements.

The information presented on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

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