Time of Year
Seasonal goods, like many agricultural products, are produced only at certain times of the year. This timing is influenced by local weather, geography, economy, and social tradition.
Advantages of Seasonal Produce
Seasonal growing takes advantage of every climate by growing produce specific to each region, year-round. By taking advantage of the right weather conditions, seasonal produce generally requires less energy and water and fewer resources to produce than growing the same item out of season might require.
When purchased locally, transportation costs and greenhouse gas emissions are minimized. However, not all seasonally grown produce is sold locally. The benefits of seasonality frequently go hand-in-hand with the benefits of locally produced goods. For example, pineapples can be in season in Hawaii, but in order to buy them in an area where they can never be grown, like New Jersey, transportation expense and emissions must always be incurred.
Costs of Out-of-Season Farming
Produce that is sold out of its natural season due to commercial demand may have been cultivated far away from the point of sale due to climate conditions. These goods require more resources to transport, contributing to a number of transportation-related issues like increased greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and demand for more fossil fuels. Produce that is grown out of its natural season may require increased use of resources (like fertilizer, pesticides, water, and more) as they are grown under special circumstances in order to promote their growth. Additional costs could be passed on to consumers.
How to Buy Seasonal Goods
One of the easiest ways for consumers to purchase seasonal produce is through local farmers markets. Individuals can often form personal relationships with farmers and learn exactly which products are in season and how they’re grown. LocalHarvest, an online community promoting local growing, lists farmers markets by zip code.
Many commercial groceries also now indicate which products are grown locally and in season.