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A Beginner's Guide To Purchasing Fruits and Vegetables in Season

Updated on April 1, 2012
Turtlewoman profile image

Kim is a board-certified Holistic Health Coach, Healthy Living and Cleanse Consultant, and studied under Drs. Andrew Weil and Walter Willet.

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We all understand the benefit of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. You even go to the supermarket, strutting you recyclable grocery bag, with the best intentions to buy food that is sustainable and Eco-friendly.

When you walk into the local supermarket, there are mounds of beautiful fruits and vegetables piled up high. Do you ever wonder how it’s possible to get perfectly red and shiny tomatoes in the middle of winter? Why is it more beneficial to eat vegetables that are in season? How do you get started?

Finding local, in-season food is easier than you think, and with this guide, you will be a pro at being green! Provided below is a guide to eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season- when they are at their peak flavor and least expensive.



Source

5 Reasons to consider eating fruits and vegetables in season


  1. Save the environment
  2. Taste better
  3. Support local farmers
  4. More nutritious.
  5. Cheaper

Earlier generations cooked up dinner menus that were determined by what was grown locally and what could be stored and preserved through winter months. Both of my grandparents lived up to their late 80's. My aunt is still traveling and hiking at the age of 76 years old this year. What do they all have in common? They all ate produce that were in season.

In today's world of convenience, we are used to eating any kind of produce we want, whenever we want. Yet, fruits and vegetables in season are more beneficial for your health, your family's health, and our planet's health.


When you buy produce that are NOT in season:


Have you ever taken the time to look at the cute tiny stickers on that mango? “Mexico’s finest mangoes.” Those mangoes may be their finest, but they have been sitting in that freight truck for about 2000 miles. They also made a visit to the dark warehouses and finally found their way to the supermarket, and eventually on your counter top.

  • Eating out-of-season food means it’s been transported from a far distance.
  • It’s been grown in an energy-intensive climate controlled environment.
  • They are picked before they are completely ripe, to ensure that they don't spoil during their transport. Researchers have shown that fruits and vegetables have higher nutrients when they are picked in season.
  • Transporting fruits and vegetables over long distances has a negative impact on our environment due to greenhouse gas emissions and atmosphere pollution. The result is a depletion of the earth's limited energy resources.


So how can you buy fruits and vegetables in season? Let's get started...


  1. Farmer's Market
  2. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
  3. "Pick Your Own"
  4. Fruit Tree Projects



These oranges may not be shiny and glistening in their perfectly round shapes, but they are FREE OF SYNTHETIC PRESERVATIVES!
These oranges may not be shiny and glistening in their perfectly round shapes, but they are FREE OF SYNTHETIC PRESERVATIVES! | Source
Source

Visit your local friends-THE FARMER’S MARKET


For a list of farmers market near you, click here.


The farmer’s market is the most efficient route from producers to buyers, ensuring the freshest produce, the shortest distance traveled, and the best price possible without involving the middleman.

There are many farm stands that offer fruits and vegetables -some are picked as early as that morning! Most local farmers use organic methods to grow their fruits and vegetables. By eating organic foods, you are reducing exposure to harmful pesticides and artificial chemicals. Organic foods that are in season provide the most nutrients and antioxidants.

Get to know your farmers and make connections with the people who grow your vegetables. Learn more about their gardening methods. You’d be surprised to learn that most of them are very eager to explain to you their farming practice. It’s also a great way to get additional discounts on that bag of sweet potatoes.

Visiting the farmer’s market can also be a fun family outing on a beautiful sunny Saturday. It's also a great way to teach your children how to live a healthy, eco-friendly lifestyle.


Cherry farm in Brentwood, CA

Cherries galore!
Cherries galore! | Source

Sweetest cherries you will ever eat!

Pick it yourself at a fruit farm! Fun activity for the whole family!
Pick it yourself at a fruit farm! Fun activity for the whole family! | Source

Search for "Pick Your Own" farms:

"Pick your own" orchards and farms


Many local farms offer you the chance to pick your own fruits and vegetables. They usually charge at a lower rate than the ones being sold at the health super markets. Picking fruits and vegetables is a wonderful activity for the whole family. Kids love to carry buckets and roam around the farm picking cherries! It is also very rewarding! Don't be surprised if your kids love to eat fruits and vegetables after picking it themselves!

I try to visit the cherry farms in Brentwood during the month of May and June, when the cherries are at their peak. There is something special and peaceful about stepping onto a farm that is surrounded by beautiful cherry orchards. Theses organic cherries are usually $1.50/lb to $2.00/lb depending on which farm you visit, compared to the usual $3 to $4.99/lb at health food stores. I always end up with extra buckets of cherries, which inspires me to create many dishes that includes cherries: cherry pie, cherry ice-cream, cherry smoothies, cherry jam, and cherry muffins.

Tips on finding the farms:

  • Always call to verify that they are still in business. Some farms may not offer certain fruits or vegetables due to various reasons. So make sure that your chosen farm is still operating.
  • Verify the hours and days that they will be opening. It's best to call the day before since bad weather can prevent the farms from opening for business.
  • Ask farmers if they provide buckets and bathroom facilities. Some farms even offer locations for a picnic!
  • Learn about their cost to ensure that you have the best deal possible. Prices vary from farm to farm depending on what's available and popularity.
  • Verify methods of payment. Some smaller farms only accept cash.
  • Verify directions.
  • Leave your pets at home.
  • Bring sunscreen, hats, and comfortable clothes. Don't wear open toe shoes or sandals.
  • Bring a camera to capture some memories for the family photo album.
  • Have fun!


Clagett Farm CSA

Enjoy a week's worth of okra, tomatoes, potatoes,  peppers,  garlic, eggplant, squash, and beans.
Enjoy a week's worth of okra, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, garlic, eggplant, squash, and beans. | Source

Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)


Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is becoming more popular in major cities. It directly links local farmers to consumers. Each season, members purchase a share of a farmer’s crop before it’s planted. The farmer delivers healthy fruits and vegetables to your door step. If you live close enough, you can also pick up the produce from the farm directly. The food is harvested as early as that morning or the day before.

Think of it as a group of people buying “shares” in the harvest, allowing the farmer to pay for seed, equipment, water, and effort. The point of this arrangement is to help people who live in cities obtain fresh and organically grown produce. Since CSA cuts out the “middleman,” it helps to lower costs for both the farmers and consumers.

CSA farmers typically use organic farming methods, minimizing environmental pollution. Depending on the farm, you now have access to a variety of organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, and eggs that are in season. It is a community supported arrangement, benefiting both farmers and consumers.

New Leaf CSA

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Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

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Fruit Tree Projects


There are many fruit trees on people’s yards that are left unpicked. Some people don’t have the time to pick it and are left with fruits that end on the ground. In certain communities, groups of people can now go out and pick fruits and share. Some of these fruits are usually offered to food banks, community centers, and the fruit-tree owners.

There are fruit-harvesting groups that started in California, a place usually filled with abundant fruit trees. These type of groups are becoming more popular all over the states and other countries. The common goal is: Making use of food that would otherwise rot and go to waste. Some people gather fruits that grow along the sidewalks, highways, and other public places. Others take advantage of the surplus fruits around their neighbor's yards.

In this economy, group fruit harvesting brings the economy together, and gives an opportunity for neighbors to meet and share their food.

You can harvest the fruits for yourself, for the tree owners, or support local organizations and homeless shelters.

Fruits and vegetables in season, listed by month

(click column header to sort results)
Month  
Vegetables  
Fruits  
January
Broccoli Cabbage, Cauliflower, Grapefruit, Leeks
Lemons , Oranges , Papaya , Tangelos , Tangerines
February
Broccoli, Cauliflower
Grapefruit , Lemons , Oranges , Papayas , Tangelos
March
Broccoli, Lettuce
Mangoes , Pineapple
April
Artichoke, Asparagus , Broccoli, Lettuce, Rhubarb , Peas , Zucchini
Mangoes , Pineapple
May
Artichoke , Asparagus, Broccoli, Lettuce , Okra , Rhubarb , Peas , Zucchini
Cherries, Apricot, Pineapple
June
Corn , Lettuce
Apricots , Blueberries , Cantaloupe , Cherries , Corn , Lettuce , Peaches , Strawberries , Watermelon
July
Corn , Cucumbers , Green beans , Lettuce , Summer squash
Apricots , Blueberries , Cantaloupe , Kiwi , Peaches , Plums , Raspberries , Strawberries , Tomatoes
August
Corn , Cucumbers , Eggplant , Lettuce , Summer squash
Apricots , Blueberries , Cantaloupe , Kiwi , Peaches , Plums , Raspberries , Strawberries ,Watermelon
September
Eggplants , Lettuce , Pumpkins ,Spinach
Apples , Grapes , Persimmon , Pomegranate , Tomatoes
October
Broccoli , Lettuce , Pumpkins ,Spinach , Sweet potatoes , Winter squash
Apples , Cranberries , Grapes ,Pomegranate
November
Broccoli , Mushrooms , Pumpkins ,Spinach ,Sweet potatoes , Winter squash
Apples , Cranberries , Oranges , Pears , Persimmon , Pomegranate , Tangerines
December
Broccoli , Cauliflower , Mushrooms , Sweet potatoes
Grape fruit , Oranges , Papayas , Pears , Pomegranate , Tangelos , Tangerines
Please do not use this table without obtaining permission from the author. Thank you.

Other Resources


Here is a guide to buying vegetables, including recipes:

Vegetable buying guide

More information on CSA farms:

USDA.gov

Recommended readings:

The Five Best Grocery Stores for Earth Friendly Products

What is Sustainable Agriculture?

Wrapping it up


You don’t have to be a planet-loving, Mother Nature worshiper to have a reason to eat locally.

By taking that one small step to living more “green,” and eating fruits and vegetables in season, you are saving the environment, as well as your health.

In health and joy,

Turtlewoman.

All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2012 Kim Lam (Turtlewoman)

Hub #14/30
Hub #14/30 | Source

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    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 5 years ago from Texas

      There is so much great information in this hub, It is very apparent that a lot of work and research was done to create this well thought out hub. This was a great one for the WTI this week.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I agree with homesteadbound - what a thorough hub! This will really help people shopping for fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Bookmarking now!

    • Turtlewoman profile image
      Author

      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      @homesteadbound and steph - Thank you so much! I enjoyed your WTI hubs this week as well. They are both excellent resources! If you don't mind, I will link your hubs to this one.

    • rosika profile image

      rosika 5 years ago

      This is a wonderful hub...learned a lot about buying fruits and vegetables in season for the sake of health....thank you for sharing....you got another vote!

    • Turtlewoman profile image
      Author

      Kim Lam 5 years ago from California

      Rosika- thank you for our vote! Cheers

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 4 years ago

      I grow my own fruit and vegetables, it is only when they are out of season that I have to shop for them. Of course I have to purchase some of the fruits that we cannot grow in the UK. Since starting to grow my own fruit and vegetables; I have become a more discerning shopper and am aware of the transport 'air and road miles' so try to choose carefully.

    • Turtlewoman profile image
      Author

      Kim Lam 4 years ago from California

      Hi 2uesday~ isn't it great to eat your own fruits and vegetables? I wish I had a bigger garden to grow more fruit trees! Here in CA it's so easy to grow anything we should definitely take advantage of it. Thank you for reading and commenting. Take care!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      You've included some great ideas in this hub. I didn't realize that eating produce in season is not only economical but healthy! When I was little, my parents often went to u-pick orchards near our home. We'd come home with bushels of peaches, apples and veggies. It brings back good memories just thinking about it. Voted up and shared!

    • Turtlewoman profile image
      Author

      Kim Lam 4 years ago from California

      Hi Vespa, great to hear from you! I'm glad it brought back sweet childhood memories. :-)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This is definitely a useful and interesting hub and voting it so. We all need to start thinking like this and start making more purchases from local sources and eating fruits and vegetables in season for the many reasons you gave. I just planted a Meyers Lemon tree in our backyard. Looking forward to harvesting our own lemons in the years ahead.

    • Turtlewoman profile image
      Author

      Kim Lam 4 years ago from California

      I just helped my brother-in-law harvest a few buckets of Meyer lemons from his backyard. I am definitely in love with them! Thinner skin and full of juice. I hope to plant one soon. Thanks Peggy, for dropping by!

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