Commentary: The benefits of buying produce in season

Commentary: The benefits of buying produce in season
June 15
02:10 2017

By Lynne Mitchell

Eating seasonally is not new…it is what people have done throughout history.  Nowadays, with a global economy, you can buy almost any type of produce year round.  Although having a variety of produce available is convenient, are there benefits to buying what is grown locally in-season?

When you eat fresh produce at peak season, it is dripping with flavor, juiciness and taste.  If you don’t believe me, try eating a just-picked ear of corn, a juicy red-ripe tomato, or a blueberry fresh from the garden.  Foods allowed to ripen until they are at their peak have maximum nutrition, flavor and freshness. 

Although it is convenient to have produce available year-around, it is a good idea to read the label or sign at the store when buying produce to find out where the food was grown.  Many produce items not only travel from other states before arriving in Forsyth County, but from other countries!  If produce was grown in another country before traveling to the U.S., there is a very good chance it was picked before peak freshness and traveled days or weeks before making it to your local grocery store.  As an alternative to buying produce grown in other countries, you can freeze or can in-season produce that was locally grown.  This will allow you to enjoy that fresh picked taste all year long.  It also has the added benefit of supporting our local food economy and farmer.

If flavor and freshness isn’t enough, the price of foods in season are generally more affordable.  When the supply of a certain food is abundant, the price generally drops.  And who doesn’t like to save money?  When you eat seasonally, you can enjoy the nutritional benefits from eating a wide variety of foods throughout the year.  The foods available each season provide important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.    The more variety of foods you consume, the more variety of nutrients you will provide your body.  This is fantastic for your health!  Also, don’t forget that in-season foods include fish and seafood from N.C. rivers, lakes and the ocean.

Growing or buying foods grown locally supports an “in my backyard” way of thinking.  If you aren’t sure how to “go local,” start by shopping at a local Farmers Market or asking the produce manager at your grocery store what was grown in Forsyth County or North Carolina.  You can also buy directly from farmers that run a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.  With a CSA, you pay an upfront dollar amount to a farmer and get a box of produce on a regular schedule in return.  For do-it-yourselfers, plant your own garden.  The great thing about having your own garden is that you can size it to suit your needs and space.  Go seasonal, go local!

Lynne M. Mitchell MS, RD, LDN is Community Nutritionist with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health ( You can reach her at 336-703-3216 (direct line) or

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