myFM: Eating In-Season

by Lianne Phillipson October 14, 2020

myFM: Eating In-Season

The fall season is upon us and there’s a pretty big change to what’s available that’s fresh and local. Read on for three key benefits to eating locally. 

1. We need nutrients that fit with the seasons

This quote that I saw somewhere sums it up nicely:

“Nature gives us what we need when we need it”. 

We need nutrients that fit with the seasons and fall produce doesn’t disappoint. The colourful and fibre-, vitamin C- and antioxidant-rich root vegetables of carrots, sweet potatoes, including all the varieties of squash help support your immunity. I came across a new squash a couple of weeks ago at my local market called HoneyNut squash. Grab one if you can, it was delicious – denser than a butternut squash and sweeter too.

2. More fresh means more nutritious AND more delicious

Apples are in abundance and if you haven’t had a Honey Crisp before, now is your chance! Nutrients are at their highest with the smallest amount of time from field to table.The longer it sits in storage, travels to the grocery store, and hangs out on store shelves, the more nutrient depletion can occur— for example, spinach, has been found to lose47 percent of its folate content after eight days of storage, and 80 percent of its vitamin C content after just three days. That’s a lot of nutrient loss when you think you’re upping your greens because you’ve heard me say that it’s good for your eyes, your heart and your immunity. 

Fresh and in season ALWAYS tastes better. Think of all those strawberries from the summer. I call them little bites of sunshine! The longer that fruits and vegetables can ripen on the vine, they not only have more nutrients but their taste is like a party for your tastebuds.Out of season produce is harvested early in order to be shipped and distributed to your local retail store, and crops picked at their peak of ripeness are also better tasting and full of flavor. I visit a farmers market each week and have asked them what their best kind of peach is, for instance, and they tell me. They know their produce best, they’ve grown it and sampled it and talking and connecting at a farmers market is something that I am so grateful for. If you don’t have a market near you, then get to know your local supermarket produce manager. They’re in charge of ordering so they know what has come from further and what’s local and in season if you’re not sure. 

3. In-season eating supports the local economy and the planet's health

Eating plants in general, no matter where they come from, is still one of the best things you can do for your health and that of the planet.Local food supports the local economy and reduces your food miles. The money you spend on products from local farmers and growers stays in the community and is reinvested with other local businesses.

Food not travelling long distances from the US when you can get it locally, or even something like your lemons from South Africa, make a difference byreducing air pollution and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, and that helpsthe environment. Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. When you buy directly from farmers, you have the opportunity to ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about the food that you’re putting in your body and that helps your relationship to eating and the food that you choose. 

Favourite Fall Recipes

Not sure what to do with the fall harvest? I have a super easy Baked Butternut Squash Risotto recipe and my epic Sweet Potato fries from my book, Sprout Right Family Food, right here.

Baked Butternut Squash and Garlic Risotto
(pictured above)

Egg-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free, Wheat-free, Vegetarian
Serves 6


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1½ cups (375 mL) arborio rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (250 mL) finely grated pecorino cheese
  • ⅓ cup (75 mL) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. Add the squash, rice, garlic, stock, and onion to a 3-quart (3 L) baking dish with a lid and stir.
  3. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
  4. Add the cheese, butter, salt, and pepper. Stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until rice is thick and creamy. Serve.

TIP: Swap the butternut squash for 14 ounces (400 g) mixed mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, brown button), cleaned and sliced.

Sweet Potato Fries

Dairy-free, Egg-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free, Wheat-free, Vegan
Serves 2-4


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes or yams, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sweet paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into ½" × ½" × 2½" (1 × 1 × 6 cm) sticks either by hand or using a mandolin. Place the sweet potato sticks, olive oil, garlic, and paprika in a resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and shake until the sweet potato sticks are coated completely.
  3. Spread the sweet potato sticks out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until tender (they won’t be as crispy as potato fries).

TIPS: 1. You can keep the skin on the sweet potatoes for extra nutrients and fibre. 2. Parsnips, carrots, and potatoes are good substitutes for a change of pace, but sweet potato works best.

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