Although it doesn't feel like it here in Southern California this week, fall's in full swing! This is a great time to get fruits & veggies like squash (acorn, spaghetti, butternut, etc.), broccoli, pears, apples, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.
When you eat seasonally, you get the best tasting food available AND maximum nutrients. The food is grown close so it won’t spoil in transport, and it's harvested at the peak of the season and sold during its season before it goes bad. It's always preferred to get your nutrients from food, but you also have to make sure your food has nutrients to begin with!
Along these lines, I have a personal story to share... I used to work with a distribution center for a very well-known grocery store chain. Want to hear the most shocking thing I learned there? They’d keep bananas in their coolers for weeks (maybe months) and apples could be preserved, looking fresh for up to a year. Interesting fact: Both fruits emit ethylene gas as they ripen, bananas especially. They get stored in a specially-ventilated & cooled room that prevents harmful gas from escaping and heating up the whole facility!
And, have you ever bitten into a tasteless apple? You should wonder how long it’s been since it was actually picked, especially when it's not apple season (fall). It may look the same…. but it's already lost tons of nutrients and taste in the time it's been sitting around. Store fresh apples in the separate drawer or in a plastic bag to keep the gas from making them mushy.
What does this mean for the quality of the food you're eating? Less nutrients. At the same time, it's not worth going overboard with this concept. If you love apples but it's springtime, you should eat those darn apples!
Here's how to maximize the nutrients in your food & eat seasonally:
See if you can get fruits & veggies before they’ve had time to lose any flavor or health benefits from sitting in a shipping container or being floated across the ocean.
Start local - at the farmer's market. Farmers are an amazing resource for prepping, cooking, and storing their produce... and generally very knowledgeable people to talk with if you plan to grow your own.
Check out this list of fall season veggies to know what's growing fresh right now.