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Pumpkins aren’t the only fruits in season this fall. October kicks off the growing season for many fruits and vegetables in Florida, which means grocery stores and farmers markets are overflowing with a variety of fresh, nutritional and local items.

Everything from citrus and sweet corn to tomatoes and squash is in season in October. November and December bring even more offerings such as bell pepper, cabbage and cauliflower. This bevy of tasty, nutrient rich foods offers you and your family an opportunity to eat seasonally.

Seasonal eating is a sustainable way of changing your diet by eating fruits and vegetables that are in season for your geographic area. Due to the convenience and ease of transporting food, shoppers typically have access to every fruit and vegetable throughout the year. So why should you be concerned with local growing seasons?

At Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH), we’re committed to helping you and your family discover healthy habits, while also improving our community’s well-being. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season can have environmental benefits, lower your grocery bills and add more nutritionally-dense food to your diet.

Here are our top four reasons to eat seasonally.

1. Taste. Food harvested in season will have a fresher, more flavorful taste because it is at peak ripeness compared to out-of-season produce, which is harvested early to be shipped and distributed to your local retail store.

2. Nutrition. Foods grown and consumed during their appropriate seasons have more nutrients. Also, seasonal eating encourages you to try a varied diet. Branching out from the fruits and vegetables you eat year-round will give you important vitamins and minerals you might not usually get.

3. Cost. When a fruit or vegetable is in season, it’s abundant and usually available at a lower price. Purchasing in-season produce and preserving it by freezing, dehydrating or pickling can help you enjoy some of your favorite fruits and vegetables year-round at a lower cost. Shopping seasonally also supports local farmers, boosts the economy by keeping money in your community and helps create jobs.

4. Sustainability. In-season food does not need to travel through an extensive supply chain network, which reduces the amount of energy required to transport food to your grocery store. Additionally, in-season foods are typically less likely to use extensive packaging, wax coatings, chemical ripening agents or other preservatives necessary to transport food long distances and modify the harvest season.

How to Eat More Fresh, Fall Foods

Now that you know why to eat seasonally, how do you do it?

Start by learning which fruits and vegetables are in season for your area. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offers lists of which fruits and vegetables are in season each month to help you plan meals and ensure you don’t miss out on the abundance of fresh produce available locally.

When shopping at the grocery store, check the produce labels to see where the items were grown. If you are at a farmers market, ask the vendor where the products were grown. If you don’t see local, in-season products where you shop, ask the store manager. Many restaurants will also feature seasonal items, so check the menu the next time you dine out.

Need More Inspiration?

Tallahassee Memorial Executive Chef Michael Wahl shares his delicious Black Bean and Fall Vegetable Salad recipe to get you started. This can be served on top of chicken, fish or tofu, or enjoyed as a dip with your favorite tortilla chips.

Download Recipe

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Tallahassee Memorial

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is a private, not-for-profit community healthcare system committed to transforming care, advancing health, and improving lives with an ultimate vision of leading the community to be the healthiest in the nation.