It’s always a great idea to eat fresh foods in season where you live. They are more likely to be grown nearby and less likely to be trucked long distances, which impacts nutritional value and carbon footprinting.
They’ll also be tastier, and they’re often cheaper because more of it is available on the market. The globalization of the food market has drastically widened the food available to us throughout the year, but at the price of losing all sense of what’s “in” or “out” at any given time.
So here’s a list of some of the most nutritious crops being grown now in Arizona and California.
One of the few truly seasonal fruits left, these scrumptious but delicate fruits mostly grown in California hit the fresh produce shelves in the summer, with a smaller crop arriving in June and a bigger one in in August and September. Figs are rich in antioxidants for heart health and calcium and magnesium for bones — pick up the dried varieties the rest of the year.
They’re ubiquitous year-round but summer is their season in Arizona and California. Now is the time to get specimens that look and taste like you think they should. They are most consumers’ primary source of lycopene, a powerful red-hued antioxidant that keeps free radicals in check and may slow progression of prostate, breast and other types of cancer.
This isn’t one of the most popular veggies out there, but try it in season and you may feel differently! It’s a great source of two of the most effective antioxidants, anthocyanins and nasunin. Eggplants have been found to fight precursors to heart disease, especially in women, and contain 2.5 grams of fiber per cup.
Another crop with strong summer associations, it’s going to be richer and juicier in season and has several benefits. It’s actually a grain, not a vegetable, and comes with all those whole-grain perks including lowered risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and stroke.
Grown throughout the summer in our region, these great low-calorie veggies still contain a lot of nutrients: calcium, vitamin K, cucurbitacin, fiber, manganese, potassium and magnesium. Cucumbers have all of that and a lot of water, too, making it another great choice for hydration.
The quintessential summer fruit can be hard to find other times of the year, but when in season they’re glorious. The 92% water content hydrates us at a time we need all the help we can get with that, and its cheery red color comes from high levels of lycopene, too!
These are more of a late summer and fall crop for California and Arizona, so start looking in July for the most flavorful and nutritious ones. Apples do live up to their doctor-recommended reputation by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, aiding digestion, fighting tooth decay, fighting lung and other forms of cancer and could even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.