woman holding spinach

When it comes to food production, Washington is one of the most bountiful states in the nation. Just north of Seattle, Whatcom County is in the top 3 percent of all counties nationally when it comes to farm production. To the east, our orchards produce 70 percent of the apples in the U.S.

Seasonal produce is easy to obtain when living in the state of Washington, but because supermarkets consistently have so many of the same offerings, it is easy to be disconnected from seasonal harvests. Here are three reasons why it makes sense to reconnect with the seasons.

  • Taste: Food grown in season is simply more delicious. Compare the taste of a tomato from a summer farmers market to one from the supermarket in the winter. Similarly, consider spinach, a cool weather crop. Because sugar doesn’t freeze, the spinach plant produces extra sugar to protect itself against the cold. The result is a sweeter, more delicious green in winter.
  • Nutrition: Produce picked and eaten at its peak generally has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than foods harvested before they’re ripe. Eating seasonally helps you get the full complement of nutrients that nature offers.
  • Environment: Eating seasonally often means eating locally. This is good for the environment as it cuts down on pollution from shipping and reduces your carbon footprint.

So how do you find what's in season? Here are a few tips.

  • Go to LocalHarvest.org for a nationwide directory of local food sources.
  • Browse EatWellGuide.org for information about stores and restaurants in the region that have a focus on seasonal produce.
  • Use your smart phone to track down where to buy what's in season using apps such as Farmstand on iPhones, Fresh Food Finder on Androids, and Locavore on both.
  • Visit a farm or local farmers market. A list and map of those in the Puget Sound area can be found at PugetSoundFresh.org/Markets.

Eating seasonally is great for the environment and the community and your taste buds will be glad you did.

— By Terese Wallace, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, core faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.