If you’re like most people, you probably make a trip to the grocery store at least once a week—if not more. You’ve become familiar with its aisles and where you can find what you need when you need it. And you’re probably familiar with seeing the same things over and over on the shelves and particularly in the produce aisles. For example, you probably see apples—every week, and lots of different kinds. You probably also see strawberries—fresh, throughout the year.
But here’s the thing about those strawberries and those apples. The growing season for those fruits, and for every other fruit and vegetable in the “fresh” section of the grocery store, is limited, even if their availability is not limited. In other words, the strawberries that you buy in October weren’t designed to be harvested in that month. But modern agricultural practices, as well as modern modes of transportation, has made that possible—at great cost. Those fruits and vegetables are often grown in industrialized facilities, and they’re often harvested before they’re ready. To preserve them, today’s producers are able to use waxes and other additives. The result? You can get those strawberries in October—and in every other month of the year.
But paying attention to what you eat and when you eat it can be an important thing to do to guide your purchasing decisions. For starters, you won’t be exposing yourself or your loved ones to those additives and waxes. And if you buy produce in season, you’ll maximize the produce’s nutrients and vitamins—which they might lose if they are transported long distances.
There’s another big benefit for eating more in the season when you can. You eating in season helps keep your dollars in the community, and also benefits local growers. You’ll probably also save yourself on your food budget: Food that’s in season and hasn’t had to be transported long distances is likely more competitive in pricing.
If you didn’t grow up on a farm, you may not know what’s in the season when. Even if you did grow up on a farm, you probably didn’t grow and harvest everything that’s in the grocery store. For example, if you didn’t grow up in California’s growing areas, you may have no idea what it’s like to grow an avocado—much less know when these are in season. If you didn’t grow up on a farm of any kind, you may not realize that you can grow lettuce and other greens in two seasons—both at the start of the spring/summer season, and at the end, when summer transitions to autumn and temperatures cool off. But the more you learn, the more you can eat in season and support your local economy and local growers.
Fruits and Vegetables in Season Chart
And the more you learn, the better your eating habits will be—and perhaps the more diverse fruits and vegetables you’ll include in your eating habits. This graphic from Zero Cater will show you what produce is in season and when.