Why cooking seasonally isn’t just a health fad

There was a time in the not too distant past when we ate artichokes and asparagus in the spring and cabbage and cauliflower in the fall because, well, that’s when they were grown and available.

But these days, thanks to technology and global distribution, we’re able to eat virtually anything we want when we want. Nevertheless, health experts and chefs believe it’s still better to eat seasonally – in other words, eat what’s available in your area when it’s actually in season. Here’s why:

Cooking seasonally saves you money: Fruits and vegetables grown near you didn’t have to travel very far to get to your supermarket or farmer’s market, so they’re significantly cheaper than produce that traveled thousands of miles.

Cooking seasonally is tastier: Foods cultivated in your area can be harvested near their peak and are less likely to spoil before they end up on your plate. Local fruits and vegetables are also less likely to have lost their flavor or vitamin and mineral content so they’re healthier too.

Cooking seasonally is more responsible: Buying local doesn’t necessarily mean the food wasn’t picked by a big food grower or distribution company or that it wasn’t stored in a massive warehouse on the way to your table. But cooking and eating seasonal produce does make it more likely that you’re supporting local farmers and businesses.

Cooking seasonally provides variety: We’ve all gotten used to not thinking much about what we buy and, for instance, simply eating potatoes or tomatoes every day because they’re always available at the supermarket. But variety truly is the spice of life and eating seasonally means teasing our palate with a wider variety of foods all year long.

But, cooking seasonally isn’t the answer to everything: There are a lot of benefits to cooking and eating fruits and vegetables grown near you and we should all make an effort to do it more. But if you really adore bananas even though there isn’t a banana plant within a 1,000 miles of you, don’t go bananas about it. Enjoy what you love.

Do you shop locally and eat seasonally? Please share your challenges and ideas with the Shop Talk blog community forum.


Did you know: Long distance eating

“Fresh" fruits and vegetables at your local supermarket travel, on average, 1,500 to 2,500 miles before they get to you.  (Source)

47 thoughts on “Why cooking seasonally isn’t just a health fad

  1. If my family & I want something that is out of season, as long as it’s fresh, it’s worth paying a little more for. I don’e believe in depriving ourselves o helathy foods, in or out of season.

  2. I am fortunate in that there are so many fruits & vegetables grown here locally in Florida, that many products are available year round. Soon, we’ll be heading into “watermelon season” and we will see a number of roadside stands that will be selling them for $2, even $1 ea. February marks strawberry season, with the huge strawberry festival in Plant City. We will be able to buy flats for $10, perhaps less.

  3. I feel like using frozen produce is fine, especially from brands you’ve tried and liked and trust to use the best fresh produce, frozen at it’s peak. I do enjoy fresh produce from the produce section as well and somethings like lettuces and salad fixings, are not going to be possible without sometimes using produce from far away. I do though, like to notice when the stores indicate what is local or if not, where it was grown. My first choice would be locally grown, second would be grown in the US and lastly, imported from another country. I often read the country of origin on packaged foods as well. I can’t always get what I’d prefer but at least I can be aware and if there is a choice, then I can make a decision. Honey is an example. I find that on lots of honey products, the honey is a blend from South American and maybe the US too. I’d rather have locally grown honey from one location.

  4. Although this is an interesting viewpoint, I seem to fall on the other side of the issue. I am thrilled to be able to find a variety of fruits and vegetables in the market all year long. For this reason, we eat a variety of foods throughout the year. I will admit that the fruits and vegetables that are purchased in the normal North American seasons taste better, but when I see cherries from Argentina in the store in the winter, I’ll buy them even though they don’t taste as good just because it will be a welcome break from the other fruits that are available at the time. Then there are foods such as bananas. I’m not aware of any banana plantations in the continental US (although there might be a few). We wouldn’t be eating any bananas if we relied solely on “locally” grown produce. Like I said, it’s an interesting viewpoint, but I wouldn’t be in favor of taking to the extreme.

  5. What about frozen veggies and fruits??

    How do you know what is seasonal when most things are available all year ??

    I love love tomatoes – I buy frequently from Sam’s Club – if I get tomatoes from Mexico they taste like hot house – but the tomatoes from Michigan taste great all year.

  6. I have my own fruit trees and I grow some of my own vegetables in the summer and can enough food to last until the next garden season

  7. I buy locally from our local farmers market. Of course I live in Florida and am able to. To me to keep my local farmers productive benefits me by saving money, gives me fresh produce, and helps my community flourish. Win win!! I will always buy locally!

  8. I buy from my local fruit stand (market to some) and find the cheapest prices or I compare the prices of small can goods to the bigger can goods and your local groceries stores brand is better than the name brand. Don’t be scared to step outside the box every now and than. You be surprise of what good food is if you just naste the cheapest next time you show.

  9. Since I have been living alone, I don’t cook much. Seldom do I buy fresh vegetables so I don’t visit farmers markets.

  10. I’ve always eaten what’s in season. It’s easy to freeze, sun dry and roast fruits and vegetables to enjoy on those cold winter days. I have several gardens but you only have to go to your local farmers market for fresh food in season.

  11. I do not eat seasonally though I would like to. Unfortunately, I am very poor and eating from food pantries. This is a take what you get situation and they can only give what is donated. So, root vegetables in winter and abundance of fruits and vegetables in summer is not how it goes. Generally, what is available in terms of produce is whatever people don’t buy from the store. This week it was zucchini and summer squash, apples, potatoes, and very ripe bananas. I am not knocking this, I am happy to get it, but eating seasonally is not really an option. If it were, I would.

  12. The captcha does not always show up after I leave comment and information!!!!!!!

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