Purchasing food in season is not only beneficial to your health and the environment, but when it is farmed locally, it also benefits the community and local economy. By directly purchasing food this summer from local producers, you can play your part. We asked Registered Dietician Olivia Wagner (MS, RDN, LDN) to share the benefits of seasonal produce.
Enhanced Nutrition - Locally grown food is fresher! Most produce in the grocery store is harvested before it’s fully ripe so it can survive to its final destination without spoiling. When produce is picked before it is ripe, nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants do not fully develop in the flesh of the plant. Plants need the sun and nutrients from the soil to fully develop so when you pick produce before it is fully ripe, it cuts this nutrient availability short! Additionally, air, artificial lights and temperature changes during transport lower a food’s nutritional value. With local food choices, the transport distances are much shorter and there is less exposure to chemicals, gasses or waxes used to preserve food for long-distance transport. Because of the decreased transport time associated with local foods, locally grown food can be picked at its peak ripeness, when it is most dense with nutrients.
Increased Plant Diversity - If you aim to purchase produce seasonally, you are likely to consume a broader variety of foods over the course of the year based on what is available at the time. Plant diversity is important for receiving a variety of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and plant nutrients! Research shows that plan diversity is particularly important for sustaining a healthy gut microbiome.
Cost Efficient - Supply and demand simply explains how buying produce seasonally saves money. Produce in season is more abundant, so it is less per pound in the store. If you are buying produce that is out of season, there is travel, time and added expenses to grow it in a greenhouse.
Environmentally Friendly - As we truck in produce from other areas, it requires gas to get the produce to the store. This fuel charge is something often added to the price of the food upon delivery, not to mention what this does to the carbon footprint.
Community Benefit - Buying your produce from local farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agricultures (CSA) is a great way to build community, but also allows you to feel more connected to where your food is coming from and who is growing it. In developing relationships with the vendors one can better understand how far their food has traveled and the growing process endured!
Richer Flavor - Produce that is picked when it’s fully ripened tastes amazing. If your produce is coming from across the US or another country, it is picked before it’s ripe. As it travels to your local grocery store, it ripens in a cardboard box, often after being sprayed by chemicals to prevent it from ripening too quickly.
Looking to Eat Seasonal in Chicago?
We’re partnering up with three Chicago organizations looking to grow the local food movement and provide you with fresh, seasonal produce. These organizations are working to reduce food waste and help farmers replace revenue lost from restaurants and farmers markets in light of Covid-19.
Local to Chicago? Follow, purchase from, and share the great work they are doing. Learn more below.
Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks
Sign up for a seasonal Fresh Picks Box to experience the very best of local. Fresh Picks offers a large variety of boxes depending on your preferences, ranging in both sizes and products! You can also customize your box and add a la carte produce, meats, dairy, baked goods and locally crafted groceries to your order each week!
Fresh Picks' mission is to bring Chicagoland convenient, reliable access to the best of local & organic foods, while simultaneously supporting small, family-owned farms and purveyors. This mission helps to fuel the local economy, protects & preserves our midwestern environment and there are significant health benefits to eating local, sustainably sourced food. Fresh Picks is also a family-run small business that has been serving Chicagoland customers for almost 15 years. They value community and customer service above all else!
Shop online with delivery through Mercato straight to your doorstep, or purchase online for contactless pick up. Stay tuned for their produce boxes coming soon.
Local Foods works directly with small, local farms and vendors to ensure quality, freshness are achieved. Through their work they continue to build a robust community that encourages the best practices and supports our local food systems. You can order all of Local Foods produce and other local products online for contactless pickup or delivery through Mercato.
Green City Market
Pre-order for contactless pickup at multiple locations or use the WhatsGood App to get it delivered right to your door with home delivery every Wednesday. You'll receive fresh, seasonal produce, meats, eggs, breads, soups, jams, pickles and more!
Green City Market is paving a path for the local food economy in the Midwest by supporting small, family farmers from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. What began as a startup in an alley next to the Chicago Theater in 1998 is now one of the best sustainable markets in the country. Green City Market not only connects consumers with farmers, but also focuses on educating consumers and the next generation of eaters, as well as increasing access to local, healthy, sustainable food.