The transitioning of the seasons this time of year always gets me thinking about food. That first bite into a tart, crunch apple; the smell of squash roasting in the oven; the comfort of a big warm bowl of potato soup; not to mention, all the vibrant colors of produce, from sweet potatoes, to brussel sprouts, to beets, cranberries… There are so many ways to appreciate the harvest season with fall produce. And so many reasons to as well.
In today’s post, I’m sharing my little guide of sorts to eating seasonally this fall. There are benefits across the board to eating what’s in season — it’s better for you in more ways than one, and it’s better for the environment that we depend on to keep producing for us year after year. Plus, eating seasonally can be a fun creative process — there are so many wonderful possibilities for the rainbow of fruits and vegetables that are in their prime over the next few months, and I’m sharing a list of my favorite fall produce to stock up on right now.
Why eat seasonally?
It tastes better
This is somewhat intuitive. Produce that’s harvested in season is at its peak ripeness and freshness. That means the colors, flavors and textures are going to be in their prime, and you’ll notice when you take a bite.
Furthermore, produce that is picked out of season has to be treated with gas, chemicals, heat, and wax to either slow down or speed up the ripening process & preserve produce so it can be mass-sold in stores. Studies have shown that these processes sacrifice “flavors, nutrition, color, aroma, and textures.” Furthermore, it’s also been shown that the refrigeration that’s required to keep all this food from spoiling can weaken its flavor, too.
It’s better for you (& your wallet)
It’s not just the taste that gets better when you eat what’s in season. Produce harvested at its peak also tends to have a higher nutritional value that produce that’s picked out of season. Because the plants have time to mature, all of the vitamins and minerals have had time to fully develop. So each bite you take will pack the maximum nutritional punch.
Not to mention, it’s better for your finances to eat in season as well. Produce that’s in season can be harvested in larger quantities… and if there’s one thing I remember from my high school economics class (literally, there’s probably only one thing), it’s the rule of supply and demand. When the supply goes up, the cost goes down. Those costs can get even lower when you make an effort to buy locally and from farmer’s markets… because you’ve cut out the need (and the costs) for storing, shipping, packaging, etc.
It’s better for farmers & the planet
Eating seasonally can have a positive impact beyond just your household. It’s better for farmers, because it reduces the demand for inconvenient produce, which can strain the land, and the local economy to cultivate.
Mass-producing fruits and vegetables leaves behind a major carbon footprint. It takes a lot of energy to grow all that food, treat it, store it, and transport it around the country and around the world. In fact, it’s estimated that food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is a multi-faceted and global issue at this point. And eating in season isn’t going to fix the problem by itself — there are other components of our diet culture and food structures at play. But that step is one small way you can help reduce the demand for this industry cycle — which hurts many farmers, and puts many local food ecosystems at risk — and play a part in reducing the environmental impact of food.
Seasonal veggies to stock up on
There are a range of vegetables, from root veggies to leafy greens, that are in peak season right now. In October in November, you’ll want to load up on brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and leeks, along with wild mushrooms, beets, turnips, collard greens and potatoes.
Some things to do with all those veggies…
- Roast up some brussel sprouts in the oven with olive oil, salt & pepper for an easy, healthy veggie side to any meal.
- Make stuffed sweet potatoes as a healthy meal-prep lunch options. Here’s 3 different recipe ideas.
- Whip up some Beet & Butternut Squash Hummus for a healthy snack to munch on all week long. Maybe cut up some carrot sticks for easy dipping.
- Make a warm, seasonal veggie soup to keep you cozy on cold fall nights. Try my recipe for Potato & Leek Soup.
- Keep it simple on the weeknights with this Fall Harvest Sheet Pan Dinner featuring brussel sprouts and acorn squash.
Seasonal fruits to enjoy
Bring on the pies, crumbles, cocktails and more with the array of seasonal fruits available in October and November. The next two months are prime time to stock up on all those apples (of course!) but also pears, pumpkins and hard winter squashes (which are, in fact, fruits), cranberries, pomegranates, persimmons, kiwi fruit, and limes.
Some things to do with all those fruits…
- Eat them in all their natural glory for the perfect snack. Sometimes the simple things are the best.
- Bake apple pie to your hearts content! Apple tarts, crumbles and galettes are also accepted.
- Or go savory with your apples. Toss them in this Spinach Bacon and Apple Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette… or sauté them up with pork chops, along with some fennel and kale in this recipe.
- Start your day with pumpkin. Try out these Maple Pumpkin Yogurt Parfaits, or these Pumpkin Protein Muffins.
- Make sangria! Pears, pomegranates, apples and persimmons all make perfect fruit to toss in the bottom of a pitcher with some red wine, spirits and bubbles.
Resources for eating seasonally
If you want to see even more, this website is a great resource that can show you what’s in season from month to month, along with tips for how to buy, store and prepare produce. They also provide some fun history on some of our favorite fruits and veggies.
The American Heart Association also has quick guide for how to find and store seasonal produce
There’s also the Seasonal Food Guide, which lets shoppers search for what’s in season near them by state and month.