Article by Lauren Arnett, RDN, LD
Functional Medicine Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at KanodiaMD

One of my favorite summer activities is heading over to the local farmers market, because I know I’ll find fresh and seasonal ingredients for delicious dishes and nutritious meals. But flavor and health aren’t the only benefits of selecting local, seasonal and sustainable foods.

What do these terms mean?

Local: Foods grown in your backyard, city, state or region—like at your local farmer’s market.
Seasonal: Foods purchased and consumed around the time they are harvested.
Sustainable: Foods that minimize their impact on the environment.

Sustainable eating encompasses both eating locally and seasonally. It’s about choosing foods that are nutritious for our body and healthy for the environment.

What is the benefit?

Local and seasonal food is more nutritious! Plus, it tastes better and supports the local community. When food is local, it doesn’t have to travel long distances which means your produce is fresher and will retain more vitamins and nutrients. Produce that is out of season is picked under-ripe to account for transport time. Once harvested, produce begins to lose nutritional value.

Foods that are available year round lack quality and affordability. How is it even possible that we have access to so much out-of-season produce? Because it's imported from multiple locations around the world. Many times, ripening agents are used and some are even frozen and then thawed. All this incurs costs and raises the price of your produce!

Eating sustainably can actually save you money. Seasonal and local food is often cheaper. When produce is in season it’s more abundant, ripe and ready to eat which means there is a shorter window of time before it spoils. Markets tend to have sales and better prices on these items in order to move them off their shelves more quickly.

Think about berries during the summer. Have you ever purchased strawberries in June vs. November? They cost quite a bit less and taste way more flavorful in the summer when consumed right after harvest. It’s because they are in season!

How do I put this into practice?

1. Go to local farmers markets.
The USDA has a great online resource to locate a farmers market in your area.

2. Join a CSA.
CSA or Community Supported Agriculture has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

3. Start growing!
It can be as simple as indoor herb pots or planting some veggies in a raised bed in your yard.

4. Fight food waste with ugly produce.
Companies such as Imperfect Foods or Misfits Market offer excellent produce that may not look perfect or pretty enough for grocery stores.

5. Shop based on the season
If you’re in Ohio, below is a list of some popular summer produce. If you’re located somewhere else in the country, check out this Seasonal Food Guide that tells you what’s in season in your area.

As always, we’re happy to discuss your health needs. Just contact our office to set up an appointment. Check out our snack-sized, healthy cooking tutorials filmed straight out of our state-of-the-art teaching kitchen called ‘The Nourishing Plate.'

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