Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside

Is there a nutritional advantage to eating local and in-season?

Is there a nutritional advantage to eating local and in-season? The Editors Santa Fe, New Mexico


The trend toward local, seasonal eating is certainly great news for local farmers and the environment. But depending on where you live and the time of year, a strictly local diet might not always be the best health or financial choice, since limited availability makes a healthy, varied, and affordable diet tough.

Eating locally can ensure quality and cleanliness of food, and it usually means that the food is organically grown. When you eat locally, whether from a farmer's market or direct from the farm, you also created a partnership with the farmer. You can visit the farm, ask questions about growing and harvesting practices, and in some cases even be part of the seasonal production. You can also opt to join a local CSA (Community Sponsored/Supported Agriculture), a fairly new model of food production, sales and distribution that delivers a weekly basket brimming with fruit, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Most CSA farms partner with bread, cheese, egg and meat producers, as well. Check out to find your nearest CSA.

But back to your question. The real data behind whether locally grown, organic produce is better in strictly nutritional terms is more difficult to find. To our knowledge, it has not been definitively proven either way. Not even the USDA, which certifies food as organic, claims that it is more nutritious. Produce, however, definitely changes once it is picked. Temperature variations, transport time, and exposure to light all expedite deterioration, which means changes in water content, texture, color, microbial content, and ultimately, nutrient quality and content. Simply stated, the closer you live to where it was grown, the better it will most likely be for you.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Nutrition