Eating Local, Seasonal Produce is Best

Eating Local, Seasonal Produce is BestJennifer Seleem use

By: Jennifer Seleem, MS, RDN

Bright, warm sun shining; colorful fragrant flowers blooming. Spring is here and summer is on the way. Just as flowers are blooming, as are our fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, as consumers we walk into the supermarket and see almost the same fruits and vegetables available all year round. That is only possible because it has had to endure long journeys through trucks, trains, planes, etc. to get from different countries or cities to your local supermarket. But, there is another option; local, in-season produce. This produce is grown nearby, requiring very little hassle to get to you!

Local, seasonal produce is always a better option. It is picked at its peak, which allows it to offer higher nutritional quality, optimal color and texture. To put it into perspective, out-of-season produce are usually picked before they have reached peak ripeness, with the idea that it will continue ripening during travel. If you think about it, that vine it was picked off is providing the produce with nutrition to help it grow into a large, healthy fruit/vegetable. Once it is picked, it is cut off from its nourishment and shoved into some mode of transport to get to supermarkets across the country. The produce does undergo some growth during transit, but cooling, transport and exposure to varying temperatures can lead to nutritional losses, as well as loss of taste and texture. Which is why choosing seasonal, local produce will provide you with the tastiest and most nutritious product.

Eating seasonal foods protects our planet from pollution caused by the transit. In season, local produce goes from farm to table fairly quick which in turn requires minimal travel, storage and most of all pollution to the environment. It reduces the use of gas emissions from trucks and/or airplanes that would transport produce from different countries or states. We only get one planet, why not do everything we can to protect it!

In season, local produce is grown fairly close to where it will be sold. Harvesters do not need to add cost for storage, travel, gas, labor to handle produce, etc. This results in produce which is much more affordable. Since seasonal produce is picked at its peak it tends to be more delicious and reached its optimal nutritional quality. More bang for your buck! And by purchasing in season, local produce you help support local farmers that are working hard to feed our state! Local farmers work long hours to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to our tables. Buying their produce will help them continue providing us delicious produce!  Here in New Jersey we have so much seasonal produce grown locally and available in the coming months. Here is a list provided by Jersey Fresh:

April and May- Arugula, Leeks, Mustard greens, Asparagus, Lettuce, Spinach, Turnips

June- Cherries, Strawberries, Cabbage, Onions, Peas, Snap beans, Squash

July-Tomatoes, Blackberries, Blueberries, Peaches, Nectarines, Plums, Beets, Broccoli, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Lima beans, Peppers, Potatoes, Corn.

This spring and summer make sure to stop into your market and find these seasonal produce! Know that you are supporting you’re local farmers and purchasing a more affordable product. Most of all enjoy the delicious and nutrient dense produce! For more information on produce and when they are grown here in New Jersey, go to Jersey Fresh’s web site: http://www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/availability.html

Jennifer Seleem is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with the Institute for Weight Loss at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center Old Bridge. The Institute provides weight loss surgery and support for individuals seeking weight loss and have been unable to lose weight through conventional dieting, exercise or weight loss medication. To attend a free seminar, which occurs twice monthly, call 855-TIME-4-ME.

 

 

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