Seasonal Foods: Knowing What to Eat When

The Sleeper of the Eating Well Trinity

Local food and organic food naturally spring to mind when we think about eating healthier and better for the planet, but the simple wisdom and beauty behind eating seasonal foods sometimes eludes us.

I admit I was a Jenny-come-lately about choosing foods in season to guide what we eat. In a world hardwired for year-round tomatoes and daily bananas, we too quickly forget that eating food in the season it's grown and harvested yields some of the freshest, most flavorful and more affordable foods. Hello? Could nature be any clearer not to mention more logical?

Nothing drove this home like Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (a definite must-read!). By taking the reader along for a year on her family's commitment to eat food produced locally and primarily homegrown on their farm, we behold, up close and personal, the rewards of enjoying foods from each season -- how it's done, when to do it, what to do with it (her pumpkin soup in its own shell is a must-do for October!) and so much more.

Eating Seasonally: Ultimate Meal Planning Courtesy of Nature

Foods in season are a sheer wonder at supplying us the wherewithal to eat well. Eating seasonally provides answers to what kind of food (all-natural, unadulterated, whole foods) to consume or prepare when (in the season they're made for and from) and where (freshly harvested nearby).

Seasonal foods are quite possibly the simplest and most natural guide to getting the most out of our diet and are typically a lot easier on our wallets. Eating foods in the season they're grown not only supplies some of the freshest and tastiest foods, but a lot of times seasonal foods are less expensive since there's good supply at peak season and they don't have to be shipped in from far and wide. For that reason, seasonal foods encourage us to consume more regionally and locally produced foods too. And tastier foods like spring greens, summer tomatoes, fall apples and winter beets help us fill up on the more nutrient-rich harvests of fruits, vegetables and nuts in lieu of more processed foods and less healthy options. We get taste, value, community, environment and health -- now that's quite a mouthful!

The What, Why, How & Wow of Seasonal Foods

Not sure what's in season when? Or what to do with the onslaught of squash and tomatoes your garden doles out each summer? Check out the wonderful resources below for finding, cooking and eating by season and truly round out your good eating habits. And don't miss out on the best kept secret for reaping the cream of the crop from every growing season right where you live: community supported agriculture - the mother lode of eating seasonally (and so much more!).

Seasonal Ingredient Map from Epicurious

The What: An excellent interactive mapping tool for finding what foods are fresh wherever you are in the United States with links to ingredient descriptions and recipes. 
The Why: To help each of us identify which foods are freshest no matter what time of the year or where we live.
The How: The map automatically sets to the current month, then you simply click on your state and your customized list of seasonal foods appears. You can then click on a specific food's description and recipes. A wonderfully simple format for a wealth of valuable information!
The Wow: View recipes for each seasonal ingredient. Each individual food from the interactive map's list has a direct link to recipes and cooking tips.

6 More Resources for Eating & Cooking by Season

Enjoy and experience seasonal harvests by finding a pick-your-own farm near you for descriptive farm profiles complete with picking tips and visitors' comments including their must-see favorites. It's got all you need to know to go along with your fresh picked bounty such as step-by-step instructions for canning, freezing and drying as well as recipes.


  1. Seasonal Food Guide
    Simply choose your state and time of season - from early January to late December - for an instant chart of seasonal vegetables, fruits and even meats and seafood for your area. Also includes convenient links to recipes and cooking tips by ingredient. From the folks at Sustainable Table who provide another of our favorite tools for eating well.

  2. Seasonal Produce Guides by State
    See your state's list of seasonal fruits and vegetables with months available + links for each food about ways to prepare, cook, learn and more. 

  3. Mother Nature Network's Collection of Seasonal Recipes
    Mother Nature Network shares some truly fresh, delicious recipes to whip up with your seasonal finds for Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall. And these aren't your grandmother's recipes (not that there's anything wrong with Grandma's recipes, come on!) nor the same ol', same ol'. From peach paninis to grilled green beans, explore and enjoy. Yum!

  4. Eat the Seasons
    Features a "Seasonal Food of the Week" with fun trivia and helpful how-to's and recipes + an extensive list of "In Season Now" foods with detailed links about storing, preparing and even the history and biology of many foods. A sister site for the UK is also available.

  5. CookSmarts
    Make the most of your seasonal finds with these ultimate shelf-life guides with beautiful infographics including storage instructions for produce.

Enjoy and experience seasonal harvests by finding a pick-your-own farm near you for descriptive farm profiles complete with picking tips and visitors' comments including their must-see favorites. It's got all you need to know to go along with your fresh picked bounty such as step-by-step instructions for canning, freezing and drying as well as recipes.


For a real treat of an U-Pick experience and so much more, I can't resist mentioning our very own, family-owned Mercier Orchards in the North Georgia mountains -- their fried apple pies and Pink Lady apple cider are absolute musts!

For a real treat of an U-Pick experience and so much more, I can't resist mentioning our very own, family-owned Mercier Orchards in the North Georgia mountains -- their fried apple pies and Pink Lady apple cider are absolute musts!


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