What is seasonal eating? 5 benefits of eating more seasonal produce


by Alessandra Stasnopolis, RDN, LDN

May 31, 2024

There’s nothing like biting into a crisp apple in the fall or a juicy peach in the summer. Certain foods just taste better at certain times of the year, right? That’s because they’re at their peak.

Beyond the flavor of the foods, there are other benefits to eating seasonal produce—the practice many people refer to as “seasonal eating.” If you’re curious about seasonal eating, here’s what you should know.

What is seasonal eating?

Seasonal eating is a lifestyle practice that encourages choosing produce items, like fruits, herbs and veggies, that are currently in season for your geographic area.

Before modern agriculture, there were certain seasons of the year when you could access certain produce items. For example, apples were ripe in the fall, watermelon in the summer and oranges in the winter.

Now, we have access to these items as well as international produce year-round. But there are still some benefits to eating seasonally if you have access to local, in-season fruits and vegetables.

What are the benefits of seasonal eating?

There are many benefits to purchasing produce in season. Let’s dive into a few.

1. Affordability

Since crops are easier to grow and take less “climate altering” supplies when grown in season, they’ll usually be more cost effective. This means your budget  can stretch a little further or you might be able to purchase a few extra ingredients to pack a seasonal punch to your meals.

2. Abundancy

Crops that grow during their peak time usually provide more yield, meaning they’ll be easier to find at the grocery store. Chances are, you won’t have to search all over town for a specific ingredient if it’s in season.

3. Freshness and quality

When produce is grown during peak times, it often tastes better than it would out of season. So, when you grocery shop seasonally, you’ll probably notice your fruits and vegetables have stronger flavor and may last longer than when you buy produce out of season.

Some also believe that produce grown in season has a higher nutrient value than produce grown out of season. For example, broccoli grown in the fall or spring might have more vitamin C than broccoli grown in the winter. However, there hasn’t been much research done on this topic to confirm whether this is true or not.

4. Promotes variety

By focusing on eating what’s in season, you’re more likely to incorporate different types of produce and herbs into your diet rather than sticking to the same ones you usually eat. Consuming a variety of produce can have health-promoting effects because it exposes you and your family to different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

5. Sustainability

Buying and consuming local produce in season can also help fuel your local economy. Even if you’re purchasing in-season produce at a major grocery store, farmers still benefit because it costs less for them to produce and transport fruits and vegetables in season than it does out of season.

Environmentally, in-season produce takes fewer supplies to grow and often requires less transportation as well, both of which improve farmers’ carbon footprints.

How to eat more seasonally

Seasonal eating is easier than you might think! All you have to do is find out what foods, vegetables and herbs are in season and incorporate a few of those into your meals. Here are a few tips and resources to help you get started:

  • Check out this guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to figure out what is in season!
  • Check out local farmers markets.
  • Look for deals or coupons in your local grocery stores. Seasonal produce is often on sale.
  • Search for recipes online with in season produce.
  • Start your own garden or participate in a community garden.

It’s important to note here that not everyone has access to fresh produce in or out of season. Eating produce in general is great for your health, regardless of when and how you eat it. Do not let this deter you from eating fruits and veggies! Frozen and canned foods are also nutritious and may be more readily available in your area.

Looking for nutrition support to help you achieve your wellness goals? Connect with a dietitian today.

About the Author

Alessandra Stasnopolis, RDN, LDN, is a clinical dietitian and wellness coordinator in the Baylor Scott & White Health wellness department.

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