Autumnal Ambiance and the Benefits of Seasonal Eating

Autumnal+Ambiance+and+the+Benefits+of+Seasonal+Eating

From pumpkin spice and cinnamon sticks to cranberries and figs, the fall season is associated with beloved fall produce integrated into delicious autumnal foods that make the holiday season that much more meaningful. Around this time of year, you may be dreaming of baking pies or choosing pumpkins for carving, but what would happen if there were a certain ambiance like that unique to fall for every season? What if the “aesthetic of the season” could actually benefit the environment and local economies? 

Seasonal eating is simply being aware of what foods are ready for harvest in your area and what foods are out of season. Eating foods that are ready for harvest are more nutritious, better tasting, and will likely cost less because the produce travels less distance. Non-seasonal produce has to travel long distances to reach your local supermarket, meaning the food will cost more and there is more exaltation of carbon to get it there. Plus, if the food is not in season, there is bound to be less surplus, which means the food is more “rare” and costs more. On the flip side, eating seasonally positively affects local farms, whether in your area or in a state nearby. This means that buying seasonal foods supports local economies and therefore gives back to the community. 

So, you may be wondering, where do I start? Going to local farmers’ markets is the number one way to eat seasonally and support your community. Sellers at farmers’ markets typically sell food that is only in season. Regularly attending farmers’ markets means training your agricultural eye, and eventually, there is a gained sense of what produce is available for the season. This is also a sustainable way to support the local economy.  

If a farmer’s market is not feasible, another way to support local farms is to look at the labels on produce at the supermarket. Knowing where the food is sourced allows the consumer to know how long the food has been available since harvest. This allows evaluation of how nutritious and fresh the food is. 

A fun way to engage with and support local farms is to go to U-pick farms, which as the name suggests, means the consumer gets to go to a nearby farm and pick their own fresh produce. An enjoyable family or friend activity, this is often a delightful way to buy cheaper and more nutritious produce. The food is bound to be more fresh, and after picking your own food, there is a sense of achievement from the work you have done to get fresh, longer-lasting food on the table.

How does this play into the ambiance of the fall season? One of the staples of autumn is the pumpkin, which is used in foods specifically during fall, and would feel out of place within the ambiance of spring or summer. Because of the high supply and demand of other produce, it is common to purchase food that is out of season, yet available in local supermarkets. Perhaps following in the footsteps of autumnal ambiance could make all seasonal crops as special as pumpkins in their harvest times. It seems about time for the romanticization of strawberries in the late winter and early spring, of mangos, cantaloupe, and watermelon in the early and late summer, and of oranges– well, for all times of the year here!

In such an urbanized and populous city like St. Petersburg, it is that much more important to try and reduce our carbon footprint and support local economies. Besides, eating seasonally makes the holidays that much more meaningful. Within seasonal eating, there are many different resources available online, such as local farmers markets on St.Petersburg.com, resources like Facebook or Instagram to stay updated on community events, and maybe even a U-pick farm! The Seasonal Food Guide Organization also provides a selectable drop-down menu by state, time of the month, and even a long list of produce that allows you to see what foods are in season in your area. Seasonal eating may take some research and scouring through blog posts or Healthline articles, but the benefits outweigh the costs when reducing your carbon footprint, supporting the community, and saving money whilst buying delicious and nutritious fresh produce.