It’s truly remarkable, the availability of food year-round. You can buy pineapple in December and winter squash in July. But do you want to experience nature’s true bounty? Visit a farmer’s market. It can be a wonderland of new textures and scents (although we don’t recommend actually touching any vegetables or fruit unless you intend on buying them). Farmer’s markets are also a fantastic place to learn about the local vegetables and fruits in season-specific to your area.
We love visiting Austin’s incredible farmer’s markets. It’s a feast for the stomach and the eyes! And we always find seasonal foods to experiment with in our own kitchen. In fact, we prioritize using seasonal fruits and vegetables in our concierge meal plans and catering.
But what’s the big deal about eating fruits and vegetables in season, anyway?
6 Reasons to Love Seasonal Food
1. Seasonal fruits and vegetables taste better.
Let’s just go ahead and get this one out of the way. It might seem obvious, but fruits and vegetables in their peak season simply taste better. Not a little better. Much better. So much better that they can transform a basic dish into a gourmet dish.
Fruits and vegetables you buy in a plastic container from the supermarket fall far short of the mark. If you haven’t tried a fresh fig off a tree, you haven’t truly had a fig. If you haven’t tried a strawberry straight off the vine, you haven’t truly tried a strawberry. The same goes for most other fruits and vegetables. There’s simply no replacement for fresh, in-season harvests.
2. Vegetables and fruits in season cost less.
There’s a misconception that farmer’s markets cost more than a grocery store. In fact, studies have shown that farmer’s market produce costs the same, if not less the supermarket equivalent.
Based on our experience cooking with organic, locally grown produce here in Austin, we agree. Seasonal food is so bountiful that it can often cost you far less than if you buy that same food out of season.
This isn’t just true in Austin; it is true no matter where you live. For example, California strawberry farmers had so many harvests last year that they could hardly sell them fast enough. Locals could get a tray of strawberries for an absolute steal. Not only that, but those strawberries were some of the juiciest, sweetest strawberries you could find.
3. What’s in season is usually far more nutritious.
Seasonal produce is more fresh. That simply comes with the territory. Farmer’s market produce was often harvested that very same day. But you might wonder how much this freshness really matters. We’ll tell you, it’s not just because your produce will look prettier (though we adore an Instagram-worthy squash as much as the next person). There’s a significant health benefit as well.
Your parents probably already drilled into you from childhood the importance of eating your fruits and vegetables. Their vitamins and minerals can boost heart health, manage diabetes, guard against cancer, and even help you lose weight.
But if you are eating produce that’s sat on a shelf or in a transport truck for months and months, the health benefits become significantly diminished. Consider the study from Penn State University that found spinach kept only 53% of its folate (important for heart health) after eight days. Or one troubling discovery that the average supermarket apple is a mind-boggling 12-months old.
The methods used to do this are considered safe, technically speaking. Yet, one has to wonder, what kind of chemicals and preservatives did they use to keep that golden-delicious apple looking so golden and, um… delicious?
4. Seasonal foods help reduce pollution and food waste.
The food supply chain process can be incredibly long. Consider this. A banana from Ecuador travels over 2,000 miles to arrive in the United States.
Putting a banana on a plane burns a lot of fuel and creates a lot of carbon gas emissions. But there’s another downside. All that produce is perishable. Keeping it alive and reasonably edible along the way is a battle, and one that is hard to win. Between packaging, processing, transport, and throwing away our ugly pineapples, an estimated 40% of food gets lost along the way. That’s a hefty price to pay for putting a banana on a plane.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not saying you should stop eating bananas. But bolstering your diet with seasonal foods can make a positive impact on your health and the eco-system. Locally sourced food doesn’t have to travel so far to get to you. Consider buying in-season produce from your supermarket or visiting your local farmer’s market or co-op whenever you can.
5. Your digestive system will thank you.
I understand if oranges are your go-to breakfast fruit or if you simply can’t live without your weekend avocado toast. We all have our fruits and vegetables we love to eat on a weekly or even daily basis!
However, one benefit of seasonal eating is that it broadens your horizons in ways you might never think about. Changing up your dietary habits can be very good for your digestion. It can introduce new forms of fiber and diversify your overall nutritional profile.
6. From vibrant colors to inviting flavors, seasonal vegetables and fruits are more interesting.
It can feel intimidating to try a new fruit or vegetable at first. As you browse the farmer’s market, you might wonder what all of those strange textures are. What is jicama exactly, and what do you do with it? You know raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. But what are gooseberries, mulberries, and elderberries? Can you eat them raw?
There’s a certain magic that comes with trying new things, and a fantastic place to discover new fruits and vegetables is to explore the seasonal produce offered in your area. Experiencing something new can boost your brainpower and confidence, not to mention your creativity. You might just fall in love with a new culinary delight.
The Harmony of Eating with the Seasons
If you think about it, there’s a natural harmony that accompanies eating with the seasons. There’s nothing like biting into a perfectly sweetened berry dessert on a hot summer day. A roasted butternut squash soup is the perfect cure for a cold winter day. Greens like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus are abundant in spring, mirroring the end of winter and ushering in the return of lush green landscapes.
Here at The Austin Artisan, we believe that food should inspire you. Our recipes are designed to immerse you in the exquisite flavors each season offers–giving you the opportunity to enjoy old favorites in new ways.
Let us guide you on a culinary quest through bountiful harvests that are yours for the taking.
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