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Advertise the Seasons!

Have individual supermarkets advertise the fact that certain foods are currently in season nearby. During its local harvest, a product is likely to be among the most delicious, cheap, healthy, and locally/sustainably produced item in the store. I want to be connected to my food production but I don't have the foggiest idea when to harvest a cucumber. Localized ads focused on harvest seasons could help solve this problem.

Photo of CJ Adams
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A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who works on a farm gave me a shopping list for a dinner we were planning, and I went to the store and picked everything out. Without thinking, my friend had naturally only chosen to buy things that were currently in season. I was amazed by how much better my food tasted. It was cheap too! On top of that, without ever trying, I had purchased a majority of my produce from nearby farms. The only difference between the shopping list that she gave me, and the one I would have made, was that she knew what was in season and I didn't.

The concept here would be to take the existing infrastructure of localized supermarket advertising (both print and in-store mediums) and use it to inform customers about what products are in season to drive demand towards products that are easily sourced sustainably at any given time.

Many stores do a great job stocking local produce when it is in season near by, but customers like me never know what to look for in any given month. To see if you are in the same boat, ask yourself a few questions: When is it most sustainable to buy eggplant in your state? How about avocados? How about corn? Tomatoes? Apples? Unless you are familiar with local harvest cycles, you are probably as clueless as I am.

When I walk through a grocery store, I usually buy what I want regardless of what time of year it is and end up with stickers on food from thousands of miles away. When someone who knows the harvesting seasons walks into that same store, they buys what is in season, and they end up with fresher, better tasting food that is sourced locally.

I would love to see big color ads in the paper and on posters on the big sliding doors of grocery store entrance letting me know what is in season this week or this month. If I knew, I would buy it.

By simply telling customers what items are locally in season, we may be able to address the core goals of this challenge by increasing global sustainability and local happiness both on the farm and in the city. Instead of pulling people into a store with a coupon to a random product, we could pull them in with a connection to their local foodshed, an inside scoop on the most delicious thing around, and a natural trend of cost savings achieved by buying things when they are most plentiful.

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Love this, CJ! I know this has passed, but I wanted to comment anyway as this resonated with me a lot after having lived in Japan. In Japan, when you ask students what season they like, many say "I like XXXX season because I like YYYYY fruit." I remember being so impressed by the fact that they all knew which fruits were in season when as they tended to eat much more in line with the seasons than I did growning up in the US. I bet many American kids would have no idea when different fruits are in season as bananas and oranges and almost all fruit are available all year long. I agree with you - the more we KNOW, the more we know what to ask for, but until we are aware that a) fresh fruit that is locally grown and is in season is more delicious and b) which fruits those are at which times, we can't even begin to ask the right questions. Bring on the season signs!

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