The benefits of eating produce when it’s in season

Eating seasonally often can mean eating locally. Many local farms allow fruits and vegetables to fully ripen, enhancing their nutrient content and flavor.

Eating seasonally means consuming produce that is purchased around the time that it is harvested.

Seasonal produce is fresher, tastier and more nutritious than food consumed out of season.

For example, we all like to eat strawberries, but the best time to eat them is summer, when they are in season. Strawberries shipped to the Louisville area are picked slightly underripe so they don’t turn into mush by the time they reach your grocery. But strawberries do not ripen after being picked —­ that’s why they are often hard and bland. If you want strawberries out of season, you’ll probably do better to buy frozen.

Eating seasonally often can mean eating locally. Many, although not all, small-scale, local farms nourish plants with cover crops and other sustainable methods that put nutrients back in the soil. They allow fruits and vegetables to ripen fully, enhancing their nutrient content and flavor.

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Researchers at Montclair State University, New Jersey, revealed that the vitamin C content of broccoli was cut in half when it was shipped from out of the country compared with when it was sourced locally.

Norton Healthcare cafeterias buy local, including from Courtney Farms in Bagdad, Kentucky.

Even in the winter, there is plenty of seasonal produce in Kentucky — local potatoes, winter squash, some winter greens and onions.

Interested in learning more about where to purchase local produce? Louisville Metro maintains information about local food and farmers markets at louisvilleky.gov.

Erin Wiedmar is a clinical nutritionist with Norton Healthcare.

Photo: Courtney Farms


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