Spring Into Health

Spring into Health: The Benefits of Eating Local Ontario Produce

Valerie Horan

Nutrition for Sport and Performance

Fitness and Health Promotion

Culinary Skills

As someone who is passionate about fresh, delicious food, springtime is one of the most exciting times of the year! We start seeing fresher produce in our grocery stores and local farmers’ markets start popping back up with delicious fruits, vegetables, and all the fresh food my heart desires! Winter is a great time for heartier foods, root vegetables, soups, stews, and lots more, but warmer weather means snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables, more salads, lighter citrusy meals, and the list goes on!

Eating foods that are in season locally is not only a delicious way to enjoy fresh, ripe produce but also a smart choice for our health and the environment. When we consume foods that are in season, we are more likely to get the full nutritional benefits of the produce since they are picked at their peak ripeness. Additionally, local seasonal produce is often grown in nutrient-rich soil without the use of harmful chemicals, which can benefit both our bodies and the environment. Choosing local foods also supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with the transportation and storage of out-of-season produce. So next time you’re at the farmers’ market or grocery store, opt for locally grown, in-season produce for a healthier and more sustainable choice.


Although eating imported fruits and vegetables is not bad for you, they do lose a certain amount of nutrients through the transportation and preservation process. When produce is being transported, it is often picked before it is ripe and continues the ripening process during its trip to our local grocery stores. This limits the number of nutrients that it absorbs through the earth and usually results in a less fresh, dull, and watery flavour. Some ways to still enjoy produce when it is not in season is to buy local frozen fruits and vegetables or to purchase produce while it’s in season and process/store it yourself to retain the maximum amount of nutrients!

Some popular spring produce in Ontario includes asparagus, rhubarb, fiddleheads, and strawberries. Asparagus is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Rhubarb, with its tart flavor, is a versatile ingredient used in desserts, jams, and sauces. Fiddleheads, which are young ferns that are harvested before they unfurl, have a unique flavor and texture and are a good source of vitamins A and C. Finally, juicy and sweet strawberries are a classic springtime favorite in Ontario and are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. See the photo below for more examples of fresh springtime produce to reach for this month!


Try out this Bright Spring Salad recipe from loveandlemons.com!



1 bunch of asparagus, tender parts, chopped into 1-inch pieces

½ cup frozen peas, thawed

A few handfuls of salad greens

2 radishes, thinly sliced

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ avocado, pitted and diced

¼ cup chopped, toasted pistachios

½ cup roasted chickpeas

Fresh herbs, for garnish (basil, mint, and/or chives)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


¼ cup fresh basil or a mix of basil and mint

1 small garlic clove

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus ½ teaspoon zest

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as desired

¼ teaspoon sea salt


    1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water nearby. Blanch the asparagus for about 1 minute, until tender but still bright green. Transfer to the ice water for 1 minute, then drain. Allow the asparagus to dry and transfer it back to the bowl and add the peas.
    2. Make the dressing: In a food processor or blender, pulse together the herbs, garlic, lemon juice, zest, vinegar, olive oil, and salt.
    3. Add half of the dressing to the bowl with the asparagus and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    4. Assemble the salad. Arrange the salad greens on a platter, then layer the asparagus/pea mixture, the radishes, feta, avocado, pistachios, chickpeas, and herbs. Drizzle with remaining dressing, season to taste with more salt and pepper, and serve.
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