Spring into Fresh Produce

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There’s nothing quite like the crisp smell of spring after a long, cold winter (much like the one we’ve had!).

For the last few months, many of us have relied on warmer areas of the world to provide fresh produce, which can limit our options. As spring arises and the weather begins to warm throughout most of the country, we are given a fresh opportunity to explore new types of produce as they become more widely available. Options like herbs, turnips and strawberries are brighter in color and richer in flavor during the springtime, which is a perfect excuse to add them to your shopping list.

In the Northeast and Midwest regions of the U.S., springtime brings vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, Swiss chard, kale, lettuce and spinach. Fruits generally need even warmer weather to flourish, so most of the fruit available in the spring comes from the Southeast and West.

With all of the new varieties of fruits and vegetables back in season, spring is a great time to start getting creative with your produce, including where you buy it. In addition to the grocery store, some great places to find local, seasonal produce are farmers’ markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. By exploring different options like these, you may learn about a new fruit or vegetable (like fiddleheads!).

Picking and choosing your vegetables is only half the fun. As you probably know, eating fruits and vegetables is great for your health. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, as well as important vitamins like A, E, C and K, and minerals like potassium and folate — all of which are essential for good health. Vary your intake of fruits and vegetables daily or weekly to ensure you’re getting a wide range of the nutrients they have to offer.

When you aren’t able to buy fresh, remember that frozen produce can be just as nutritious. Frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested at peak ripeness and frozen right away. That means they retain their flavor and nutritional value for an extended period of time and are ready to enjoy at your convenience.

Now that spring has (finally) arrived, and more fruits and vegetables are surfacing across the country, knowing what produce is in season will assure that you are getting the richest flavors and best quality. Check out your local farmers’ markets, grocery stores or CSA programs and use your seasonal produce to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your eating plan!

This blog includes contributions by Allison Webster, PhD, RD, Kris Sollid, RD, and Aliza Miller, a Sodexo dietetic intern.