Apples and pumpkins and squashes, oh my! Fall has begun, and it’s the perfect time to savor the autumn harvest by enjoying all of the delicious produce that comes with the changing season. Seasonal eating is a great way to try new foods which not only benefits your health, but also your environment and community, and VALLEY is here to help you get started.
Seasonal Eating Defined
Seasonal eating is essentially the practice of eating in-season produce and proteins during different parts of the year. There’s typically a large emphasis on eating fruits and vegetables that are harvested in their prime seasons. For example, seasonal eating would mean eating strawberries, likely from a local market during the summer months when they’re grown and harvested, rather than eating them during the winter months when they have to be shipped from locations where they are grown out of season. Not only does seasonal eating benefit local communities and the environment, but it also has health benefits too.
One of the best things about eating seasonally is that the produce is fresher and tastes better too. Think about the apples you eat during the fall and how much sweeter and crisper they are compared to apples in the spring. Not only is the produce better quality, but it’s also much more nutrient-dense than when it’s grown and harvested out of its natural season. This practice pushes you to try foods that you may not otherwise have tried before, which in turn, gives you the benefits of all the vitamins and minerals in the new foods that you’re trying. In fact, studies have found that broccoli during its peak season had significantly more vitamin C than broccoli grown out of season.
Environmental & Community Benefits
In addition to its health benefits, seasonal eating also benefits the environment and local communities in a big way. Buying local produce significantly cuts down on the emissions and transportation costs of shipping foods across state lines and even from other countries. It also helps local farms to maintain open land within your community. Supporting local farms means supporting local economies, which benefits you as a consumer. No one wants to spend their entire paycheck on quality produce, but buying directly from local farmers is often much cheaper because it’s being processed and distributed right in your own backyard. You have the opportunity to learn about where your food comes from, which often makes trying new ones easier and more fun.
Vegetables that are in season in the fall in Pennsylvania include: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celery, garlic, green cabbage, kale, potatoes, red beets, pumpkin, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, turnips and winter squash. Apples, concord grapes and tomatoes are also in season. As we transition from fall to the winter months, you can expect to see lots of the same vegetables as the fall with the addition of winter squash.
Where to Shop
Eating seasonally is surprisingly easy right here in State College. In fact, there are dozens of local farms in the area and numerous markets to shop local seasonal fruits and veggies. Here are a few markets to try!
The Downtown State College Market is open from May until November on Locust Lane between College Avenue and Beaver Avenue. It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is a great place to stop on your way home from classes.
Another market you can try is North Atherton Farmers Market, located in the Home Depot parking lot on North Atherton Street. This market is open on Saturdays from May to November from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you’re looking to venture a little further, try stopping by the Boalsburg Outdoor Farmers Market which is just outside State College in Boalsburg. They’re open at 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays from May to November.
Eating seasonally is a healthy and sustainable way to enjoy fresh produce at the peak of ripeness, not to mention that it’s a fun way to switch up your usual diet.
Tell us your favorite seasonal produce item by tweeting us, @VALLEYmag, on Twitter!