Even with shorter days and colder temperatures you can still eat fresh, seasonal, local food. Here’s a list of 10 items that should be at the top of your list the next time you go to your local farmer’s market this season (and why).

What to Buy Now and Why
A shortage of fresh summer strawberries does not mean dull, cold weather eating. Farmers bring Fall bounty, too:

  1. Winter squashes, like butternut and acorn — 35% of your recommended daily vitamin C in a single serving
  2. Sweet potatoes – high in fiber and loaded with beta-carotene
  3. Kale – high in vitamin K
  4. Beets – loaded with B vitamins and smart for preventing heart disease
  5. Pumpkins – packed with fiber and vitamin A, to support weight loss and eyesight
  6. Radishes – a natural detoxifier loaded with vitamin C
  7. Leeks – contains a compound linked to lower risk of cancer
  8. Peas – packed with protein and helps regulate your blood sugar
  9. Pears – can prevent high blood pressure and stroke
  10. Apples – full of antioxidants to battle coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease

Of course, what’s in season varies by location, so check Local Harvest to get the scoop on your town.

Expand Your Repertoire
Buying food in season means you’re getting produce at its best for less money, while discovering new dishes you love. After all, what do you do with an enormous pile of leeks or a huge bunch of radishes? (The answer is: Braise them in wine, or roast them.)

Reclaim History and Help the Environment
Historically, there were no airplanes to fly peaches from Chile to Wisconsin in February. A stew with carrots, parsnips, and turnips puts you more in touch with nature and our cultural roots and does a remarkable job of chasing the winter blues away.

Also, buying locally and in-season helps the environment.  Conventional supermarket produce often travels thousands of miles by air and land and can produce anywhere from 4 to 17 times as much C02 on its journey to your table.

It’s easy to see how buying local makes a difference environmentally, to say nothing of the difference it makes in the lives of the farmers in your community. Make sure you stay curious about what you’re eating and ask those farmers about what you’re putting in your market basket. You may discover something new that could change your eating forever.