Tis the Season for Fresh Produce

by Christy Nealey, Marketing and Technology Specialist, Department of Human Resources

Did you know there are more benefits to eating seasonal produce than just the availability and grocery bill savings? As produce ages, their nutrients decline. Eating the fruit or vegetable at their peak harvest time means they will have the most nutrients and flavor. There are also digestive and health benefits such as lighter, more watery produce being readily available in the warmer seasons when your body needs more hydration, and denser foods ripening in the colder months when your body needs the fortification. In addition, the local economy and ecology can benefit when you support local farmers markets and produce stands.

This month, as Spring has sprung, the list of in-season produce is starting to lengthen with items such as asparagus, carrots, cherries, lettuce, strawberries, and zucchini. It also includes some less popular foods such as apricots, swiss chard, artichokes, okra, and rhubarb.

If you are interested in eating seasonally, here are some recipes and ideas to get you started:

Apricots can be eaten raw, dried, grilled on a salad, as a chutney, or in desserts like this fresh apricot crisp!

Artichokes can be eaten hot or cold, but be sure to learn the proper way to cut and peel them. Try this delicious dip recipe!

Asparagus can be eaten steamed, roasted, boiled or baked into a variety of recipes like this frittata!

Carrots are usually eaten raw, roasted or in a puree. Try these honey-glazed carrots!

Cherries need to be pitted but can be eaten in pies, sauces, or raw. They pair well with many flavors like this porkchop recipe.

Lettuce has many varietals and is usually eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches. Try a ton of spring produce at once in this ultimate spring salad!

Okra is typically eaten fried, stewed, oven-roasted, or in gumbo. Try it sautéed with tomatoes in this recipe.

Rhubarb is usually eaten cooked with some sort of sweetener, like in this pie recipe, but can be eaten raw. Be careful that you only eat the stalks.

Strawberries are probably the most diversely used produce on the list. You can eat them raw, as a flavor additive to ice cream and baked goods (such as this berry cobbler), and in smoothies and jams.

Swiss Chard can be used like spinach but is often sautéed like in this delicious side dish recipe.

Zucchini can be eaten raw, sautéed, as zoodles, or grilled. Next time you want potato chips, try this zucchini alternative!