We’ve all heard the phrase “eat with the seasons,” but what does that really mean? After all, most grocery stores have a wide array of produce all year long – you can get cherry tomatoes in the dead of winter and pomegranate seeds in the heart of summer if you’d like.
When you eat with the seasons, you choose to eat what is growing locally or regionally in your area at that time. The goal is to purchase and consume produce that was recently harvested where you live, a choice that supports local farms, reduces emissions from food transport, and puts fresher, tastier, and more nutritious produce on your plate. Plus, eating local produce reduces the chances of the fruits and vegetables spoiling in transit to other places – and potentially becoming food waste.
Eating seasonally is about more than just connecting with the produce of your region. It’s about making a sustainable choice that benefits our environment and reduces food waste. Here are just a few of the benefits of eating seasonally:
Greater nutritional value & better flavor.
When the produce you consume is in season where you live, that means it’s as fresh as it can be. The sooner you eat produce after picking, the more nutrients it retains. Freshness also means superior flavor – just think about how much better a strawberry is in the summer than it is in December!
It’s the sustainable choice.
Eating within your region helps reduce the fossil fuels that come with transportation, but it also helps save on the energy required to grow foods out of season. It takes a lot of power to simulate the conditions necessary for plant growth year round, and when you eat with the natural seasons, you’re helping offset emissions.
Feeling connected to your local environment.
There is something to be said for eating the OG way – before globalization and mass transportation allowed us the luxury of having whatever we’d like to eat whenever we’d like it. In decades and centuries past, people ate what was available within their local environment, learning when certain foods would be harvested from their families and communities.
Believe it or not, it’s less expensive to eat regional, in-season produce when it’s growing abundantly. Because the supply of out-of-season produce is generally smaller, it’s priced higher. Additionally, stores mark up out-of-season fruits and veggies to offset the (often long distance and overseas) shipping and handling costs that come with bringing in produce from other states and countries.
All that said, it can be more difficult to imagine eating with the seasons when it’s the dead of winter. Depending on where you live, the soil could be cold and hard, or covered in snow. But life persists! There are plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables that grow during the cold months, and we’re here to tell you exactly what they are.
What’s in season during the winter: a month-by-month guide
- Persimmons – eat when hard, and slice like an apple.
- Figs – in some places, these aren’t gone yet!
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussels sprouts
- Beets – plus other root veg like parsnips and turnips
- Butternut Squash – and most other squashes, honestly
- Wild Mushrooms – depending on where you live, mushrooms may sprout with the rainy season.
- Kumquats – November to March in Florida, January to April in California
- Meyer Lemons
- Clementine Oranges
- Collard Greens – bringing good luck for the New Year!
- Acorn Squash
- Avocado – in season in Mexico from November to February
- Some apple varieties
- Celery root
- Cabbage – coleslaw!
- Onions – no dish is complete without them.
Don’t be afraid to cook with fruit!
While you may be most focused on the vegetables in season when it comes time for meal prep and dinner, don’t sleep on the fruit! In addition to just eating it as is, you can add many winter fruits to your savory dishes for a little something special.
Citrus + Chicken = <3
Aside from the obvious lemon chicken, citrus makes a scrumptious addition to chicken The acid in citrus balances and brightens the flavor of chicken–think orange chicken!
Okay, before you scroll – did you know that there’s a Persian dish called Fesenjan that consists of chicken, walnuts, and pomegranates cooked together in a stew? In addition, pomegranate molasses is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, and adds both sweetness and tartness to chicken made in a skillet or the oven.
Grapefruit + Avocado
Try a grapefruit, avocado, and chicken salad – healthy fats and proteins with a delicious citrus tang.
ApplesApples and chicken are a standby for us, as evidenced by one of our favorite recipes from Chef Tiffany Derry x Do Good.
Winter veggies that pair best with chicken
Squash + Chicken
A match to live for. We love roasted squashes such as butternut, acorn, and spaghetti as a side dish with chicken, or try roasting delicata squash with chicken for an easy and delicious sheet pan meal.
Turnips, parsnips, carrots, and beets all pair well with chicken, especially roasted together or combined in a slow-cooked stew.
Broccoli’s more slender cousin does well on the skillet for a quick and easy pairing with chicken. Add herbs, citrus, and a honey glaze, and you’re good to go.
Your health first
While the benefits of eating seasonally are clear (and delicious), it’s not always possible to maintain a totally in-season diet, especially if you live in a more remote area, or a place that is prone to extreme weather conditions. We get it. But every little bite counts toward doing good for our plate and planet. So–eat with the seasons whenever and however you can!