Ask the Experts: Seasonal Eating
Sarah Anzlovar is Purple Carrot’s go-to expert for all questions regarding healthy eating. She’s a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and nutrition communication specialist with a Masters of Science in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. She completed her Dietetic Internship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard University teaching hospital in Boston, MA.
What convinced you eating more plants, or a plant-based diet, is the way to go?
There are so many diets and so many studies, but no matter what, plants are at the core of a healthy diet. The more vegetables, fruit, and whole grains the better. When you see who’s living the longest and maintaining their health the best, it’s people who eat more plants.
One of the things we hear a lot about is seasonal eating, could you define what it means to eat seasonally?
This concept is about eating what’s widely available during any given season. When fruits and vegetables are being harvested, they are more nutritious and tasty. Plus, eating seasonally is better for the environment.
In a large country like the U.S., seasonal produce varies between regions, but there is some overlap based on your latitude and longitude. Tomatoes are a great example. They are in season all year in California, but only in late summer and early fall in New England.
What are the benefits of eating seasonal produce ?
There are multiple benefits to eating seasonally.
Produce picked at its peak is packed with vitamins, minerals, and flavor. As a result, the food you’re eating is more nutritionally dense. That’s important if you’re trying to eat more plants or have made the move to a 100% plant-based diet. Also, because these vegetables and fruit are so tasty, you’re likely to eat more of them, more often. Which I always encourage!
Eating seasonally adds variety to your diet. It expands your horizons and exposes you to lesser-known fruits and vegetables. Hopefully, by following the seasons, you’ll be inspired to try new plants and recipes.
Finally, eating seasonally can have positive impacts on the environment, from lowering your carbon footprint, to increasing the nutritional density of the soil.
What advice would you give to people who are trying to eat more seasonally?
Get to know your farmer. Understanding the growing seasons will allow you to make smart, seasonal choices.
Your grocery store can also be a wealth of knowledge. Now, even large national chains highlight seasonal produce.
And, of course, companies like Purple Carrot, that pay attention to seasonal transitions and create recipes designed to take advantage of vegetables at their peak, do us a great service. Its creative recipes make eating plant-based meals easy and delicious no matter the season!
Thanks, Sarah! As always, we love hearing more about healthy eating from you. Sarah posts blogs for Purple Carrot monthly. Look for her May post about carbohydrates in a plant-based diet in a few weeks.
Interested in learning more about seasonal eating? The Seasonal Food Guide is an excellent online reference for figuring out what fruits and vegetables are in season in your state.