As can you tell from the recipes I create on this blog, I strongly believe in eating locally and seasonally as much as possible.
I have found that eating seasonally connects me to my climate, results in fresher (and better tasting!) produce, and actually lowers my food costs. So, I wanted to spend some time exploring both of these concepts in-depth and talking about some of the benefits to focusing on a local and seasonal diet.
What does it meat to eat locally and/or seasonally?
- Eating seasonally means that we are eating foods that nature intended for our climate. Our bodies naturally tend to crave certain foods at certain times of the year – for instance, a fresh, cooling salad in summer or a warm stew in winter. Eating seasonally (and locally) connects us with the season and the weather.
- Eating locally means that the food you are eating is being grown nearby. If you are eating locally, this means that you are also eating seasonally because the food is being grown in your climate.
Why buy and eat locally and seasonally?
- First of all, let me just say that if you live in the Pacific Northwest and have ever bit into a mushy apple in the middle of July (when apples aren’t in season), you will instantly be convinced of the importance of eating seasonally. One of the biggest reasons why I subscribe to a local/seasonal diet is because it simply tastes better!
- Local foods travel a shorter distance to reach you so eating locally reduces your “food miles.” This results in fresher food (because it’s not traveling as far) and reduces environmental pollution and our carbon footprint.
- Eating locally supports the local economy, supports local and smaller farms who are farming sustainably, and creates community because you are connected to the farmers who grow your food.
- Eating seasonally also reduces food costs because when we buy what is abundant and in season, the supply is higher and this means the cost of the food is lower. This enables you to buy better quality items while stretching your food dollars.
How can I buy locally?
More and more grocery stores are working with local farms to provide local/seasonal options, but the best way to find local and seasonal produce is to visit your local farmers market. Farmers markets are popping up in cities across the country and it is becoming easier than ever to find local produce in your area.
To find a local market near you, check out the Farmers Market Listings on Local Harvest. And, if you are new to shopping at the Farmers Market, be sure to check out my handy guide to Shopping At The Farmers Market and my guide to CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture).
How do I know what is available seasonally in my area?
Seasonality depends on where you live so a quick Google search with your area and the key words “seasonal produce” or “seasonal produce chart” will usually get you lots of information. If you live in the US, I really love this interactive seasonal produce map.
There are usually three challenges I hear from folks when they start trying to switch to eating more seasonal and local foods:
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
I know that healthy food might seem expensive or time-consuming to prepare, but unfortunately, if we don’t buy quality food and take care of our bodies, the reality is that we end up paying for this expense in other ways.
And, I want you to know that it also doesn’t have to be that expensive or time-consuming to eat healthy, local, and seasonal- I promise!
Awhile back I partnered with my friend Mindy Crary of Creative Money to create an exclusive webinar, Conscious Money Conscious Eating, to help folks tackle these exact challenges of wanting to eat healthier, but feeling limited with time and money.
In this webinar and e-book, I show you exactly how to get started on the path to eating healthier food (including local, seasonal and organic) while also saving time in the kitchen, saving money, and making it easy.
I’ve been so excited to hear continued feedback from folks who watched the webinar and realized how simple it can be to start eating healthier while saving money. If you’ve been wanting to eat healthier, explore local and seasonal eating, and are tired of feeling stressed out by meals at home, I highly recommend you check out the class.
Conscious Money Conscious Eating includes our two-hour webinar and the 55-page ebook which will show you exactly:
- How to spend money consciously and stick to your food budget.
- How to get started with shopping and buying quality food (local, seasonal, and organic) while saving money.
- Essential items to have in your pantry and kitchen to make meal prep a breeze.
- Easy meal prep strategies including mastering the art of the “one dish meal.”
I’ll also teach you my simple (but amazing) meal planning strategy that will change the way you think about dinners at home. And, since I know produce is a particular challenge for folks, I’ve even included my handy guide to produce to help you develop a system in your kitchen for using everything you buy. If you’re ready to get started with healthier, seasonal eating and need some guidance, I highly recommend you check out Conscious Money Conscious Eating.
One of the other challenges I usually see for people who are working towards a more local and seasonal diet is that it gets them outside of their comfort zone of familiar vegetables. For many of us who grew up shopping in conventional grocery stores (myself included), we’re pretty familiar with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and a handful of others, but once we start venturing into farmers markets our eyes get overwhelmed by things like kohlrabi, leeks, fennel, golden beets, dandelion greens, and even, fiddleheads. We start asking questions like, “what the heck is this?” and “how do I prepare it?”
If you are finding yourself in this boat, be sure to check out my recipes section for a little inspiration. You can find the recipes tab at the top of this blog and if you hover your mouse over it, it will drop down with specific categories for you to explore!
I also send out a (free!) weekly newsletter with seasonal recipes so be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you’d like some healthy living inspiration in your inbox.
And lastly, how do I get started with eating locally and seasonally?
Just like with any dietary change, I recommend starting small. When trying something new – especially a change in dietary habits – most folks “go all out” and make big changes at once. It feels great for a week or two, but the downside to this is that it usually doesn’t last. Instead, my advice is to take baby steps. It’s much easier to make small changes that add up over time to become new habits than it is to make big changes all at once.
Start by purchasing one local or seasonal item each week. Challenge yourself to try an unfamiliar vegetable and experiment with a new recipe. This is how I learned to cook and over time I was amazed at how much I had learned! Once you get into the habit of eating seasonally you’ll realize how much better everything tastes and will be hooked in no time!
And now I want to hear from you! What are the reasons you eat locally and seasonally? What are some of the challenges that come up for you?