Photo of onion, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, and strawberries

Local Produce Means You’ll Eat Well in 2021

31 Days of Resolutions – Day 13

Are you eating more fruits and vegetables this year?

We all should be trying to steer our diets toward plants and away from animal protein.

But if you are a meat-lover, it may be hard to stick to this resolution to make your lifestyle healthier.

One key to success is to make those plant-based meals taste good. That means finding recipes you like and ingredients that are top-notch.

Seasonal Produce Is Local

Admittedly, global trade has improved the produce that’s available year-round. But there is nothing as good as local, seasonal produce. It’s better tasting and better for the economy and environment.

“Seasonal” is an important quality. You know this if you’ve ever compared the taste of a hydroponic tomato to one grown in an outdoor garden in real soil.

The problem is that unless you do your research, it isn’t always clear what produce is seasonal and locally grown.

You might think that going to a farmer’s stand or market solves the problem.

Not every market carries local produce, however. I’ve been to markets here in Ohio selling mangoes.

The market managers respond that imported produce is available for customer convenience.

Sorry. If I wanted convenience, I’d do all of my shopping at a big-box discount store.

And though I’ve grown vegetables in my garden, I’d be hard-pressed to tell you when a variety of fruits and vegetables is in season.

So here’s a handy infographic to help you out. This graphic includes produce grown in the Northeast and Midwest.

What About Seasonal Produce in Winter?

There are some items that store well and are available in winter: sweet potatoes, winter squash, and beets, to name a few.

Though not local, citrus fruits are grown and reach their peak in winter in the United States. Strawberries from Florida and California are also available during winter months.

Locally grown greens like kale, arugula, mache,and  spinach are available in the winter, too. These are often grown in hoop houses. (For ideas, check out “Winter Food: 100 Healthy Winter Recipes Featuring In Season Produce.”)

Finally, if all else fails, you can turn to preserved produce.

In my opinion, frozen produce beats canned in most cases. That’s because canned produce is often processed with added sugar and/or salt. Cans are also lined with plastic (sometimes containing BPA), and that plastic can leach into the food.

All in all, if you educate yourself about seasonal produce and preservation techniques, you will be armed with the knowledge to pick the best fruits and veggies each season has to offer.

Now, eat your vegetables!

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