Eating an in-season diet boosts nutrition

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Deb Prince

Today, (June 20) is the first official day of summer and Macon County’s farmers markets are brimming with a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables. I have really enjoyed chatting with the local growers and have been introduced to some new items to try.

A book that is in my collection, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” by Barbara Kingsolver, documents a year of “food life,” when she and her family moved to a Virginia farm and were determined to realign their lives by focusing on their own seasonal food chain. The book is very compelling, with side notes that encourage readers to make small changes in buying habits that not only benefit the local farmers markets but one’s budget and health.

Seasonal eating is the practice of aligning your diet with the seasons and choosing fruits and vegetables when they are plentiful and at their peak in freshness. Instead of buying out-of-season or foreign-import produce at the grocery store, purchasing foods grown locally and regionally emphasizes sustainable agriculture and also reduces the environmental impact of long-distance transporting of produce. Seasonal eating also encourages a diverse diet, as different seasons offer a variety of healthy foods.

Studies show that the longer a piece of produce takes to get from farm to table, the more nutrition it loses. Vitamin C, calcium, and potassium are especially vulnerable. Because fruits and vegetables that are in season are able to be grown locally, they tend to be more nutrient dense. Not only is locally-grown, in-season produce healthier for you, it tastes better and is more affordable. In fact, I find the costs of area-grown or homegrown foods to be less expensive than those purchased at grocery stores, and there is less waste because the foods are fresher and last longer.

However, realize that farmers markets and your own gardens are not the only places to glean fresh produce. Many locally owned stores and even the chain grocers stock area-grown foods, and we are fortunate to have an abundance of roadside stands and a few u-pick operations as well as CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] programs available.

An excellent resource to find out what is in season is the local Macon County Cooperative Extension office, and an online guide is found by visiting It is easier to make seasonal meal plans when you become knowledgeable about what is available.

As Kingsolver wrote, “It’s hard to reduce our modern complex of food choices to unifying principles, but this is one that generally works: Eating home cooked meals from whole, in-season ingredients obtained from the most local source available is eating well, in every sense. Good for the habitat, good for the body.”

I agree.

Deb Prince has an active registered nurse license in the State of North Carolina and in May 2024 will celebrate a 40-year nursing career. She was also recently certified as a family herbalist.