The start of September represents many things: the start of a new school year, the first kick-off of football season, and a nice weekend off for Labor Day. The transition from summer to autumn also marks a change in what produce is in season and at its best. Grocery stores ship fruits and vegetables from around the world to supply out-of-season fruits and veggies, but purchasing locally grown, seasonal produce is a better choice for both your body and the planet. Shipping anything long distances means more time in refrigeration and therefore vitamin loss, plus it takes fuel which increases environmental carbon emissions.
In-season fruits and vegetables have the most nutrients because they’ve had the chance to fully ripen before they are picked. Naturally ripened produce not only tastes better, but the high content of nutrients in in-season foods often correspond to our bodies’ seasonal needs. For example, oranges are high in vitamin C and are in season in the winter, when many people suffer from colds! Vitamin C plays an important role in our immune system, so one of the easiest ways to ward off winter colds is to enjoy a fresh, in-season orange each day! Seasonal produce tends to be grown from strong plants, requiring fewer chemicals to produce them. Seasonal foods tend to be cheaper than out-of-season produce because they are plentiful and cost less to ship. You can often find cheap, healthy and in-season produce at your local farmer’s market!
Now is the time to indulge in delicious, fresh blackberries! The blackberry season spans the end of summer until the beginning of autumn, and with over 2,000 varieties throughout the world, there are plenty different ways to enjoy them! Blackberries are full of vitamin C, dietary fibers, and antioxidants that your body uses to prevent cancer and chronic disease. They are also packed with minerals like potassium, manganese, copper and magnesium. Another perk of blackberries is that they can grow almost anywhere, giving you the chance to go out and pick your own! If the idea of exploring fields to find treasures of fresh, ripe berries doesn’t appeal to you, blackberries can be found seasonally in farmers markets and grocery stores!
September also marks a great month to add eggplant into your diet. Eggplant is loaded with vitamins and minerals and a variety compounds that promote good health. Eggplant is also packed with fiber, which has a multitude of health benefits. Fiber has been shown to help prevent cancer, and can also be used as a tool to increase weight loss because it is slow to digest. Eggplant contains high amounts of water, which will not only improve the quality of one’s hair and skin, but the general performance of the body as well.
Get the most out of these beautiful Southern California days by improving your diet with fresh, seasonal produce! Prepare a delicious meal of roasted eggplant drizzled with olive oil and herbs, eggplant parmesan with fresh basil and mozzarella, or cover grilled meats in a spicy eggplant tomato sauce. Push your taste buds over the edge with a warm blackberry pie a la mode for dessert, or start your day off the right way with Greek yogurt topped with blackberries. For a tasty snack, try crackers topped with cream cheese and blackberries drizzled with honey. No matter what treat or recipe you decide to indulge in, you can be sure it will be both delicious and healthy when you choose fresh, in-season produce!
By: Kayla Heaviside