Fall is the perfect time in the Michigan to go pick some apples at the orchard and heat up the kitchen with some comforting and nutrient-dense meals like soup and chili. Below you can find 5 reasons to eat food that is in season as well as a list of seasonal produce items in the Midwest. You will find that many of the vegetables listed are perfect for roasting or for soups.
#1: Better Taste
Have you ever noticed that the strawberries you buy at the supermarket in November don’t taste as good as the ones you bought in June? In the fall and winter, your local supermarket is likely shipping in the berries from the other side of the country. By the time you actually eat them, they may have been picked over a week ago and have possibly been transported in less than ideal conditions. At the same time, you will also notice that the apple picked right off the tree at the orchard in October tastes better than the apples bought at the store in February.
#2: Higher Quality
This ties in with the first point, eating seasonally usually means better tasting produce, but it also could mean you are getting more nutritional bang for your buck. While there hasn’t been much published research on this topic, it can generally be assumed that the phytonutrient (plant-derived compounds that have positive health benefits) content of fruits and vegetables declines over time. Did you know that the apples they sell at the store, even when in season, aren’t always fresh? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), apples are often stored for up to 10 months under temperature-controlled conditions before hitting the store. By going straight to the orchard or farmer’s market, you know you are getting a fresh and high-quality product.
#3: Support Local Agriculture
By eating in season for your area (especially at the farmer’s market or orchard), you are supporting farmers in your own area who are working hard to make a living. So, let’s get this straight? Better tasting, higher quality, AND supporting local farmers? Eating seasonally and locally is a win-win for everyone!
#4: Increased Dietary Variety
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 12.2% of Americans meet the daily recommended intake for fruit and only 9.3% meet the recommended intake for vegetables. While many of us eat some fruits and vegetables every day, we have a tendency to eat the same ones every single day, week after week. It’s great if you eat a lot of bananas, strawberries, carrots, broccoli, and spinach, but if you eat the same ones every single day that’s only 5 different fruits and vegetables you are eating on a regular basis. By eating a wider variety of fruits and vegetables you will increase your consumption of phytonutrients and antioxidants (natural substances that may protect the body from cell damage). By eating with the seasons, you are sure to get the variety of nutrients that your body needs. Since the food tastes better too, you will also be more likely to eat your recommended servings.
#5: Less Environmental Impact
When you eat foods that are out of season, they often come from the other side of the country which means increased use of gas during transportation as well as more environmental pollution. The farther the distance, the greater the impact. By eating locally, you can go straight to the food source and also get to know your local farmer while you’re at it.
Here is non-exhaustive list of some of the produce items that are seasonal in the Midwest in the Fall:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Salad Greens
Michigan State University Extension has a seasonal produce guide you can access and print here.
We would love to hear in the comments below what you plan on making with seasonal produce this fall? We are thinking some pumpkin chili, sweet potato soup, and roasted root vegetables sound good!