The Essential Guide to Summer Produce
You adjust your wardrobe for the season, so why should your diet be any different? Seasonal changes impact everything from your mood and behavior, depending on what’s locally grown in your area.
Each season offers new weather and a new assortment of fresh fruits and veggies. Summer is ripe with colorful produce – from deep green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and romaine to deep purple plums and blackberries.
Treat your tastebuds seasonally! Your local grocery store or farmer’s market is the perfect place to pick up local, seasonal produce.
But what is seasonal eating?
Eating seasonally is all about planning your meals around foods that have just been harvested at their peak and adjusting your diet based on what’s available in the winter, spring, summer and fall.
What are the benefits of eating seasonally?
Local, seasonal food is better for you and the environment. It’s a cornerstone of several ancient and holistic medical traditions, which view it as integral to optimal health, longevity, and emotional balance. This is how our ancestors ate. Before the invasion of processed foods, for thousands of years, people sought nourishment from what they could harvest from the local land. It only makes sense, yeah?
As the seasons shift, your body needs different nutrients. Adjusting your diet to the seasons ensures vital nourishment and will improve overall health in delicious, symbiotic ways yet unimaginable!
When produce is grown in its natural season, in the right climate and growing conditions, it has just that many more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Again, local produce is picked at its peak, so it’s more flavorful – vs. food that’s picked early, refrigerated and shipped thousands of miles away from it's roots. Quality, taste and texture are highest in seasonal foods. There’s a huge difference between a juicy, vine-ripened tomato in July and a mealy, red-ish one in December. Eating what’s in season adds variety to your diet and balance to your plate. So go ahead, fill up with fresh locally-grown, crazy colorful whole foods.
Not only does eating local support local farmers, but it significantly cuts down on the needs for transportation, which in turn cuts down on pollution and reduces your carbon footprint (aside from all these health benefits, environmental consciousness is KEY). Plus, it saves money. Have you ever noticed that the strawberries available at the roadside farm stand in late June are just $2, yet a package of strawberries at the supermarket in December can cost upwards of $6? That’s because when produce is grown in season, it’s more abundant – and since there’s more of it, it’s usually more affordable.
What's in season for June, July + August?
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are the sweetest and juiciest during the summer. Antioxidant-rich, high fiber berries like blackberries and blueberries fuel your body and stabilize blood sugar. And did you know that one cup of strawberries packs 100% of your daily recommended vitamin C? Drizzle berries with balsamic for a decadent dessert, quench your thirst with berry-infused water or whip up a berry smoothie.
Good news for tomato-lovers! According to research, lycopene-rich tomatoes may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Plus they’re packed with H20 (94.5%), antioxidants and vitamins, to keep your skin hydrated and glowing all summer long. Fresh, juicy tomatoes are the star of any dish, from a simple salad to a spicy summer gazpacho.
Summer is prime melon time! Watermelon, cantaloupe (or muskmelon) and honeydew are naturally hydrating (thanks to a high water content) and loaded with immunity-boosting vitamin C. When the temperature heats up, cool down with an icy watermelon granita or cantaloupe sorbet.
Picked at the peak of freshness, basil delivers heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory benefits. This fragrant plant adds bright, herbaceous flavor to some of our favorite sauces (pesto and chimichurri) and summer salads or light pastas galore.
Availability of specific crops and harvest dates varies from region. To find out what’s fresh in your area, visit www.localharvest.org!