One of the most recent trends in nutrition is eating seasonal foods.
Eating seasonally, and therefore locally, yields several benefits. First of all, this produce tends to possess more nutrients. This is because fruits and vegetables tend to lose their nutrients over time and seasonal, local produce spends less time travelling to the consumer.
Differences in the ripening process also give local, seasonal produce an advantage over their national and international counterparts. Small, local farms tend to wait until their produce ripens to harvest their crops. On the other hand, larger farms that plan to distribute their crops nationally or internationally tend to harvest produce before it ripens, so that it will have the shelf life necessary to travel long distances. Produce that ripens on the plant has more flavor than produce that ripens after being picked. Seasonal, local produce requires less packaging, handling, and transport than other products and therefore runs a lower risk of becoming contaminated.
Additionally, buying local produce translates into more money for the local economy.
Eating this way presents a few challenges. It can be difficult to know which fruits and vegetables are in season. Making a commitment to eat seasonally also limits the amount of ingredients one can use in cooking. However, a variety of resources exist to make this endeavor easier. This seasonal food guide includes a list of what produce is in season, categorized by state and month, as well as recipes that use at least one of the listed fruits, vegetables, herbs, or legumes as an ingredient. The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture also offers a seasonal recipe search that can be filtered by recipe type.
After knowing what produce to buy, the next obstacle becomes knowing where to buy it. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) provides a comprehensive list of vendors, including roadside stands, state farmers markets, and local farmers markets. The SCDA’s website has a list of Fresh on the Menu restaurants for those looking to support businesses committed to serving seasonal, local foods. In order for a restaurant to make this list, a minimum of 25% of their ingredients must come from Certified South Carolina Grown farms.