The explosion of budding camellia roses, lingering daylight, and the resurgence of local markets are all welcome indicators that spring has officially sprung in the Oregon. The start of the seasons marks an exciting time for local foodies, as the region’s prized produce has begun to woo us with rich, intoxicating flavors. Local farmers are inspired by their new yields of arugula, hearty greens, and miner’s lettuce and feel excited about what will be coming soon. At Grocery Getter Organic, we make it our mission connect our community with these swoon-worthy varieties, but the rewards of seasonal eating extend beyond the joys of tasting delicious produce. Here are some of the key benefits of eating seasonal produce native to your region.
Your Produce Tastes Better and is Better for You
Let’s start with the obvious: local, seasonal produce packs a greater punch than non-seasonal produce. In order to make produce available out of season, growers must adopt alternative methods for growing and distributing their product. This might entail growing produce in hothouses, picking crops before they’re properly ripened, subjecting produce to extensive transportation, and extended time chilled in warehouses.
Because locally distributed produce has shorter farm-to-table times, seasonal crops are allowed to grow for longer periods and, consequently, boast more developed flavor profiles. The quality of the produce is also reflected in its nutritional value, which is often higher in seasonal crops.
You’ll Have More Opportunities to Interact Positively with Your Community
Here in the Pacific Northwest, our temperate climate and extended hours of sunlight produce highly diverse yields. However, many people are unfamiliar with many of our local varieties. Choosing to shop locally—by frequenting farmer’s markets or using an organic produce delivery service—gives you a chance to engage with your environment in a new way. Seasonal eating can introduce greater variety into your diet and can provide insight into your region’s natural ecosystem.
Additionally, supporting local agriculture is a great way to connect with and support the farmers in our community. When you support local farmers, your money remains in the local economy and doesn’t go towards the industrialized food system. As a result, you’ll be increasing the value of our precious and fertile farmlands, and help us win the fight against their development (urban sprawl). As an added bonus, the intimate way we support small farmers allows them to experiment with small-scale crops and bring you new and interesting varieties. How fun is that?
You’ll Be Doing the Environment a Big Favor
Food production can be a major hindrance to the health of our planet, but purchasing locally-sourced, seasonal produce significantly reduces your carbon footprint. Simply put: the farther your food has to travel, the more fossil fuels go into transportation.
Another environmental factor is food waste. Because of the long journey produce has to travel after being harvested—followed by time spent in storage and displayed on a grocery store rack—a good amount won’t make survive. Even if it gets through this grueling process, chain grocery stores will dispose of high volumes of produce simply for small blemishes or being near its expiration date. Much of this food ends up in our landfills and accounts for a huge percentage of the United States’ municipal solid waste. This equates to more than the wasted produce, as the resources—such as water, gas, and energy—used to grow, deliver, and store that product are also wasted.
Small, local farmers have greatly reduced post-harvest periods and delivery durations, which eliminates much of the stressors our fresh foods face. Home produce delivery services, which deals directly with farmers, can have a much better sense of the supply from farms and demand from their customers. In turn, these services have significantly lower food waste than large grocers. Grocery Getter Organic (GGO) does crop planning with several small farmers to specify the types and quantities we want to offer, taking the guesswork and speculation out of the equation. This process has allowed us to keep our average produce loss to approximately 1% compared to the 25-30% common in most grocery stores.
What’s the Best Way to Shop for Seasonal Produce?
Each of these elements makes a compelling case for adopting seasonal eating habits, but it isn’t always easy to find distributors or markets that cater to this approach. One way to learn more about seasonal eating is through your local food co-op, CSAs, or farmer markets. These organizations often highlight local farmers and produce, and may provide additional resources for learning about adopting seasonal eating habits.
Here in the Portland area, organic produce delivery services are a great alternative to shopping at large retailers. At Grocery Getter Organic, we make it our mission to connect individuals in the community with fresh, seasonal produce while upholding principles of sustainability and healthy eating. We operate with a network of farms and local distributors so that we can support our economy and ensure the highest quality while reducing waste. Our routes are as direct as possible, which allows us to have the lowest environmental impact possible and provide greater convenience to you and your community.
With spring in full bloom and summer on the horizon, now is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the seasonal produce in your area. Incorporate seasonal varieties into your diet and be rewarded with flavorful, nutritious produce you can feel good about eating. Your community and your taste buds will be happy you did.