What it means to eat seasonally and why you should do it.
King cake season may have ended but we are in the midst of some other really exciting seasons in Louisiana. Radishes, strawberries, asparagus, grapefruit, and more are growing all around us, and these in-season treats have so much to offer our bodies, our pockets, and our communities.
Eating seasonally means including fruits and vegetables into your diet that are grown locally at the same time of year that you eat them. When vegetables are grown in season it means they have fully developed and ripened in the sun, which allows them to be the freshest, juiciest, most colorful and fragrant versions of themselves. In addition to their robust taste and appearance, seasonal fruits and veggies contain more vitamins and nutrients than their genetically modified or cross-country shipped counterparts. In fact, our bodies are naturally in tune with the seasons of our local produce for these reasons. In the spring and summer, our palates crave juicy watermelon, crisp cucumbers, and refreshing cantaloupe to cool down our active, sun-bathed bodies. On the contrary, fall and winter bring heavier cravings such as warm vegetable soup, comforting collard greens, and hearty sweet potatoes whose fats and proteins help keep our cold, dried out bodies warm, moist, and more equipped to fight off colds and flus. Our bodies know what's good for them; all we have to do is listen.
In addition to the health benefits, local in-season produce is great for your budget. When fruits and veggies are raised in their ideal seasonal conditions they are much easier to grow, and therefore yield an abundance of produce. For this reason, farmers can sell their products for much lower prices. A trip to the farmer's market is also a fun and affordable way to spend time with the whole family. Bring the kiddos along and allow them to pick out something that catches their eye- we guarantee it will make eating veggies a more exciting experience for the little ones. This kind of shopping will keep your pockets and bellies full, and make healthy living fun for all ages!
While eating seasonally benefits our own bodies and budgets, it also helps others in our communities, as well. Supporting your local growers is one great way to directly support your local food economy. Seasonal produce provides us with optimal vitamins and nutrients needed for healthy lives, and in order to keep this abundance of nourishment accessible, it is important to sustain the farmers who make it possible in the first place. Additionally, local markets promote a culture of asking questions about food and getting to know the people who grow it. What an amazing way for adults and kiddos alike to connect with their community and food!
Local, seasonal eating has the potential to sustain happy, healthy lives for us and for those around us. The fruits and vegetables near you have the power to nourish your body, protect your pockets, teach your kiddos about health, connect your community, and allow your local economy to thrive. All you have to do is participate. Click here for a list of Louisiana farmer's markets to get started!