At Simple Mills, we believe in the idea that when we live a healthy lifestyle, we will feel the best, both inside and out. Among the many benefits from eating simple, whole foods, some of our favorites include increased energy, better mood, clear skin and less time spent sick.

While our baking mixes and crackers great as they are, but it’s always fun to mix it up and add a seasonal spin. While blueberries and blackberries are in season which are perfect for tossinginto our pancake and waffle mix or topping on our banana muffins. There is a wide world of seasonal produce out there. Aside from berries, items you might not commonly look for that will be in season include all kinds of citrus fruits (great for flavored water), tomatillos (to throw in your favorite Mexican dish), and okra (fry them in coconut oil and almond flour for a southern spin).

Click here to download this list.

Towards the end of summer, you can find rainbow chard in season which can be sauteed with coconut oil for a simple side dish. If you’re looking for something even more simple, try adding a few sprigs of basil on top of our pizza dough mix, like we did for our Blackberry Basil and Ricotta Pizza here.

By eating with the seasons, you won’t be stuck eating the same thing every month. Seasonal items add new variety, flavor and texture to your meals. When shopping at Farmers Markets in the spring, summer and fall, the produce will be the juiciest and most flavorful as it is harvested right before taken to the market. Not only is purchasing seasonal produce better for your wallet (you save big time when you buy what’s in season and on sale!) but your body reaps the benefits, too. Produce that is not seasonal or local tends to sprayed (irradiated) to kill germs and waxed to extend the shelf life, which significantly lowers the nutritional values.

Buying from farmers markets and local grocers ensures that the ingredients you’re buying have traveled a short distance, which ensures that they are more environmentally friendly (less refrigeration and irradiation). Aside from produce, you should always buy local ingredients like grass-fed meat and dairy and baked goods. By doing so, you can hear how the products were created from farm to table along with what specific ingredients were used. In the case for honey and grass-fed meat and dairy, you will know how the animals were raised and what they were fed.

If you can’t get to a farmers market, even big health food chains have local products, especially produce, that will be marked as such. If you’re unsure, always ask a team member in your store or do a little research beforehand on local farmers/food businesses and see what stores they sell their products in near you.

But hey, we know you’re busy and might not have time to do all the research and make the haul to the store or farmer’s market! If you don’t, no need to worry. Most major cities offer CSA subscriptions which allow customers to purchase local and seasonal produce through a farm share. The farmers offer different locations around the city for different pick up locations. Other programs like food delivery services, such as Door-to-Door Organics in Chicago, offer fresh, local and organic produce to customers on a weekly basis for one specific price.

However, if it’s summer, we recommend finding a schedule of farmers markets per week on the official website of whatever city you live in, like Chicago.

There are so many options to finding local and seasonal produce and we promise once you start buying it, it won’t be long before you begin to taste and see the difference. If you invest in your health now by making these small choices (buying local and seasonal), you won’t have to sacrifice your time, money, or your health down the road.

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