How to Shop Seasonally in Spring

Happy (almost) First Day of Spring! Have you downloaded my FREE guide to Shopping Seasonally yet? Find out how to shop seasonally from a nutrition expert.


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Spring is on its way! Springtime brings with it a sense of renewal, and plenty of fresh produce. It's associated with growth and full of refreshing foods.


This post will contain some excerpts from How to Shop Seasonally in Fall since I think the information is worth repeating! Shopping seasonally can help you balance a budget. It can also expose you to local flavors, farmers markets, and the fresh scents of spring.



Why buy seasonal in the first place?

Seasonal produce is often less processed (meaning less additives altering nutritional value negatively have been added). This helps to encourage both communities to eat more fresh produce, leading to a healthier diet and lifestyle. Buying seasonal also helps to support local economies and create connections with seasonal suppliers and consumers.


Fruits and vegetables cost less when they are “in season” because the growing process and transport of these produce items occurs more naturally and according to regular harvest cycles. When someone says, “this food item is going to be expensive because it is not in season right now”, this is what they are referring to.


In other words, the short answer to this question is that seasonal produce purchase is not only more cost-effective, it also helps to connect individuals in a community to their best quality of life.


Seasonal shopping also benefits the environment. Eating what is in season is more sustainable because the production of the food occurs within the natural production season. Some production seasons are local, and others are global (1).


This means that some produce can be grown in one place and eaten anywhere around the world, and other produce is produced naturally in one season and eaten within that same climate zone. While many factor into costs taxing the environment, eating more seasonal food and being more aware of the production process going into our groceries is one way to add an element of sustainability to our diet-- while also benefiting our individual health.



How do I know what is in season right now (during spring)?


Popular spring ingredients such as greens, peas, carrots, apples, and apricots are in season during spring.


To find out what is in season, I generally recommend these five quick tips which can help you find out what to look for this season within a matter of minutes.


#1: Look for a sign

Supermarkets often highlight seasonal produce or offer special deals for bulk purchase of seasonal ingredients. Look for signs or weekly deals to tell you what is in season and on sale.


#2: Use your resources

Sites such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Seasonal Produce Guide can help you explore what is in season. This can also help you save on seasonal produce by utilizing nutritious options in delicious recipes.


#3: Think about your favorite spring dishes.

Strawberries, asparagus, apricots, radishes, and leafy greens are in season during spring. It's no accident that popular spring dishes commonly contain these foods.


#4: Find a farmer’s market

Hit the farmer's market. Local markets often feature seasonal produce and it's at its freshest. When you can, shop at supermarkets that get their produce directly from farmers so that produce is purchased at its peak.


#5: Download my FREE guide & take it with you to the store.


Click here for to get your FREE download*

* After subscribing, check your inbox to immediately download (check your spam, too -- just in case 😘). If you have any problems at all getting your free download, please feel free to contact me by clicking here!



Are there variations by location or other factors?

While there may be small variations in what is available based on location, climate, and other factors affecting your local community, for the most part suppliers work to make sure they supply what is seasonally in demand. In spring, weather warnings, high demand, and other factors may influence the accuracy of delivery time estimates.


Where can I find seasonal produce?

Seasonal produce can be found in a variety of places, including farmer’s markets, local farms, or as advertised during seasonal promotions at your local grocers, especially natural grocers. If you are having difficulty finding seasonal produce, consult a nutrition and dietitian technician, registered (NDTR) or a registered dietitian (RD) for more information.


Are there health benefits to eating seasonally?


The benefits on your gut

Research shows that the human gut microbiome, or our intestinal environment, responds to many environmental factors. Two of these factors are diet (the food we choose to eat) and seasonal variations. A recent study found that while the gut can remain relatively stable throughout the year, there are significant shifts that happen seasonally. These changes include (2):

  • The abundance of bacteria

  • Microbiome diversity

  • Correlations between typical foods consumed during a certain season and the rise or decline of bacteria


Image from Reference 2 (listed below). Produce consumption varies with the seasons. In summer months when fresh produce is available, consumption rises to a higher level than in winter. In winter, higher amounts of canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are consumed because fresh produce may not be as accessible as in the summer. Both fresh produce and canned or frozen produce can be nutritious options.



The benefits on your wallet

Produce is less expensive when it is in season. You can save money and eat nutritiously by using the guide I provided FREE with this post (3).


The benefits on your body

Shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables can having the following positive effects on your body (3,4):


  • Promotes healthy heart and memory

  • Lowers the risk of certain cancers

  • Promotes healthy vision, immune systems, and strong teeth and bones

  • Supports healthy eyes, skin, and digestion

  • Promotes healthy aging

  • Lowers the risk of stroke

  • Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels

References

  1. Macdiarmid JI. Seasonality and dietary requirements: will eating seasonal food contribute to health and environmental sustainability? Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2014;73(3):368-375. doi:10.1017/S0029665113003753

  2. Davenport ER, Mizrahi-Man O, Michelini K, Barreiro LB, Ober C, et al. (2014) Seasonal Variation in Human Gut Microbiome Composition. PLOS ONE 9(3): e90731. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090731

  3. UnidosUS. Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables and their Benefits. The Walmart Foundation. 2020 Accessed at http://vps6291.inmotionhosting.com/bitstream/handle/123456789/1580/8.5x11_seasonalfruits.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y.

  4. Snap-Ed Connection. Seasonal Produce Guide, Fall. 2020. Accessed at https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/fall.