For me, fall is downright magical. I feel about fall the way my kids feel about Christmas morning, because fall is when most of my absolute favorite vegetables are in season.
We've already talked about why in-season fruit is preferable to out-of-season fruit, but the difference may be even starker when it comes to seasonal vegetables. Studies have shown that some seasonal veggies actually have twice as many nutrients as the same produce grown out of season. Fox News informs us that actually "some of the top cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables are at their nutritional peak in the fall." That's why any healthy eating plan should be chock-full of in-season vegetables.
Of course, the US is a big country with as many different climates as there are months in the year. Chances are that even if a vegetable is out of season in your area, it's in season somewhere else in the country. However, there are some distinct benefits to sticking with local, seasonal vegetables:
- Decreased costs. Shipping veggies from far-flung regions - or growing them in climate-controlled conditions - makes them more expensive, and the manufacturers will generally shift that cost to you. Plus, when a veggie is in season locally, odds are good that it's also abundant, which helps push the price down.
- Avoiding pesticides. Healthy eating isn't only about what you eat, but about how it's grown and prepared. Large factory farms that provide leafy greens year round grow massive crops and rely on industrial pesticides to prevent insects from destroying them. The pesticides used on spinach and kale - called organophosphates - are particularly damaging to humans.
- Better taste. Much like fruit, vegetables are just more delicious when consumed in season. In fact, the taste of some veggies - spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, and kale, for example - differs significantly if they are grown or harvested out of season. Eating in-season veggies makes healthy eating delicious.
Although growing seasons are specific to the climate of your region, you can use the following as a general guide to the yummy veggies you can add to salads, sandwiches, and stews during the fall months:
- Garlic (Yes, garlic has a season!)
- Green beans
Herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and basil are also great in the fall, so stock up and give your healthy meals some extra flavor.