Thousands of local farmers’ markets all over Canada are gearing up for spring and summer crops – busy selling seasons!

Eating locally-grown fruits and vegetables is a wonderful way to support farmers and the environment. And it’s easy to find; scout around for nearby farmers’ markets and make it a fun outing for the family, or purchase locally grown produce in your favourite supermarket (look for signs or ask the grocer).

Here’s why you should buy local:

Cost: The cost of buying local food in season can be significantly lower because there is a relative abundance of the particular crop. Also, when food is in season, it requires less effort to produce and grows fairly easily. That helps to keep the price down too.

Flavour and taste: Fruit and produce often tastes better when you buy it locally. Typically, local produce has been grown nearby and has been picked within the last few days. When you buy imported produce, it may have travelled thousands of miles. It may not ripen as effectively and could potentially lose some of its flavour. Ask at your local supermarket and be sure to read the labels. Some supermarkets even show the number of miles the food travelled on the packaging. Keep in mind that produce loses nutrients quickly after it has been harvested. The sooner you buy your food after it is picked, the more nutrients it will contain.

The environment: Purchasing your food locally will help promote a clean environment as it discourages producers from transporting food via train, truck, or ship and that means fewer emissions into the environment. Also, food that has to travel may need to be sprayed with a preservative to help it maintain freshness.

Here are shopping lists of locally-grown produce by season:

Spring (March – May):

Cucumbers, cabbage, lemons, cauliflower, leeks, mint, parsley, broccoli, radishes, rhubarb, garlic, carrots, kale, mushrooms, watercress, spinach.

Summer (June – August):

Berries, tomatoes, sage, sweet corn, peppers, asparagus, celery, cherries, lettuce, nectarines, pears, apples, basil, new potatoes, peas, peaches, radishes, green beans.