The end-of-semester slump and Spring Sing stress has set in, and students everywhere may be feeling weary. Luckily, Spring brings fresh new produce that can brighten up your plate but your mood.
Sarah Oropeza, registered dietician at Harding, said students do not have to make huge diet transitions to eat seasonally. According to Oropeza, even small changes will lead to healthy habits.
“When you go to the cafeteria, look at your plate and make sure it’s not all the same color,” Oropeza said. “Make it colorful with fruits and vegetables.”
Nutrition and dietetics major Toni Sharp said the cafeteria has increased the number of spring fruits and vegetables they offer. At the salad bar they have beets, radishes, chickpeas, romaine lettuce, red lettuce, and occasionally strawberries. At the main line, there are usually peas and carrots available.
“Eating seasonally is beneficial because these foods are at their peak nutritional value,” Sharp said. “Leafy greens provide hydration, fibrous vegetables aid digestion, and berries contain antioxidants which is great for energy.”
Sophomore Kaitlyn Francois said she notices when she is not eating seasonally because she experiences lethargy and brain fog.
“When you supply your body with the right nutrients, you’re going to feel way more energetic, you’ll be able to last longer throughout the day, and you’ll be able to think more clearly,” Francois said.
Oropeza said a fruit or vegetable begins to decline in nutritional value once it is harvested, so when the travel time from farm to table is much shorter, the health benefits you receive from that produce are much higher. If you are not able to eat fresh seasonal produce, Oropeza said produce that is frozen or canned at peak ripeness would hold the same nutritional value.
When buying canned fruits or vegetables, Sharp advices students to check the labels on the cans to make sure the fruits are in juice, not syrup and that the vegetables are low in sodium.
It can be easy to incorporate seasonal produce into a busy lifestyle. Oropeza encourages students to drink smoothies because they are an easy way to combine fruits and vegetables into one meal. For picky eaters, Oropeza said smoothies are the way to go because you will be able to mask the taste of produce that you don’t like.
Francois’s favorite way to include vegetables into her day are with salads or pizza because she does not prefer eating vegetables by themselves. She said it’s easy to add savory produce to her favorite meals.
“It always helps to spice [vegetables] up to fit your liking,” Francois said. “What’s important is that you are getting the underlying nutrition that’s in them.”
There are many ways to obtain seasonal produce in Searcy. Later this month, the Searcy Farmer’s Market will open every Saturday and Tuesday. Walmart, the Natural Food Store and Good Measure Market offer a wide variety of seasonal produce as well.