By Christina Perinhas

Here are some great reasons to make your food choices local and seasonal this spring!

VARIETY: Think of all the different varieties of locally grown, delicious foods that are available throughout the year. For the Spring and Summer, there’s an abundance: arugula, asparagus, beets, carrots, all kinds of greens, sweet peas, corn, peaches, artichokes, apricots, cherries, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes, radishes, rhubarb, strawberries, zucchini, green beans and more.

TASTE: When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world; both things will affect the taste. When crops are transported over long distances, they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t rot during transportation. They will not ripen as effectively as they would in their natural environment, and as a result they don’t develop their full flavor.

NUTRIENTS: If you harvest something early, so that it can endure long-distance shipping, it’s not going to have the full complement of nutrients it should have. Also, transporting produce often requires treatment–such as zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs and using preservatives like wax.

COST: When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive.

QUICK RECIPE: Here’s one of my personal favorites for asparagus, which is best during the spring season. Simply sauté your asparagus in two tablespoons of olive oil for five minutes, tossing in a pinch or two of ground pepper. That’s it! You have a delicious asparagus meal (or side).

Go check out your local farmer’s market and enjoy!