Produce Picks: Benefits to Eating What’s in Season

August 23, 2022
| Created by Melanie Taylor, MS, RDN, CD

Eating seasonally means choosing to eat food at the time of year when it’s at its peak harvest. To some extent, eating seasonally also requires eating locally.  For example, even though grapes are grown in Chile through our Utah winter, they wouldn’t be considered to be in season for Utahns.  In the fall, when grapes are harvested in Utah, we can call them “in season.” Let’s talk about the benefits of eating seasonally.

it's more nutritious!

1) Minimizing harvest to table time:
In general, freshly harvested fruits and vegetables contain more vitamins than those held in storage.  Unlike produce out of season, long storage and transportation times are not required for seasonal Utah fruits and vegetables, which allow the consumers to receive them in a fresher and more nutritious state.

Factors to Consider:

  • Extent of losses depend on the nutrient.
    Vitamin C losses are the fastest (10-20% in 6 days) followed by the B vitamins.  Fiber and mineral content of fruits and vegetables are virtually stable.
  • Extent of losses depend on the fruit or vegetable.
    Vegetables such as asparagus and green beans have quick vitamin C loss. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts) and acidic fruits are less sensitive.

2) Harvesting at the proper time:
Produce that must be transported longer distances usually are harvested before they are ripe, which lowers their nutritional potential.  Ripening on the tree and/or vine maximizes the nutrition content of fruits and vegetables.

Tomatoes vine-ripened have 50% more vitamin C than those table-ripened.
                               Potatoes lost 50% of vitamin C after 90 days of storage.

Bottom Line:
Choosing food that is fresher and been ripened on the plant is the most nutritious choice!

improved taste

Since foods in season are more likely to be harvested at the proper time and spend less time in transit after harvest, they are fresher and tastier.  This is due to the fact that the sugar content of fruit is higher when fruit is picked ripe.
Bottom line: This leads to fresher and tastier food for you!  Chances are, if it tastes good, you and your family will eat it!

increased variety

Adjusting your diet with the seasons is a great opportunity to add variety to it, which will ensure you are getting the mix of nutrients you need.  In addition, people who have greater variety in their diets tend to eat more. Consequently, increasing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will likely increase your intake of these healthful foods.

Several studies have shown that eating a greater variety of fruits and vegetables increases your intake of these foods.  It is also inversely related to weight gain.

Bottom Line:
Looking forward to the next season’s choice fruits and vegetables is a great way to welcome the new season, mix up the nutrients in your diet, and keep you excited about eating healthy, delicious foods!

lower cost

Food that is grown and sold in its natural growing season is generally less expensive.

Cherries in May: $11.99/lb
Cherries this week:  $5.99/lb

Bottom Line:
Eating seasonally can save you money which may encourage you to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables!

did you know?

Each individual Harmons store has a mix of different local farmers depending on its location. At any given time in the summer and fall, Harmons stores throughout the state have around 18 different Utah farmers supplying produce. 

So, whether your motives have to do with nutrition, flavor, price, the environment, or your local economy, enjoy seasonal crops and the many benefits that come with them! For additional ideas on eating seasonally, contact your dietitian at