Once fruits and vegetables are picked off the vine, the clock starts ticking on their nutritional value. Within minutes, in some cases, the favinoids and other micro nutrients start breaking down.
Most of us in North America will probably never know the true taste of items such as coffee, bananas or pineapple. I would imagine at least several days go by after picking before any of those items appear on our store shelves. If they do arrive sooner, it is due to being flown in which is a massive problem for our carbon footprint!
You can eat fresh fruits and vegetables all year long, but if you aren't getting items that have been recently picked, you may be missing out on some important nutrition (not to mention flavor). Ironically, some frozen and canned items are preserved quicker than the fresh items in your store and may carry these nutrients better.
I encourage everyone out there to rotate some ultra-fresh items in your diet. A few times a year, go berry picking and eat the berries as you pick. Go to your garden and eat some things right off the plant--tomatoes, snap peas, lettuce and green beans are good candidates for that. At the very least, eat them within a few minutes of picking.
Our traditional ancestors ate a good portion of their diet right off the vine, and our bodies evolved to eat that way. While modern preservation and distribution methods have made life easier, they have come at a cost to quality. We could be missing out on some essential nutrition. Modern science does not yet have a good understanding of how this works, but in light of all this, eating fresh, whole foods is recommended.
Most traditional cultures also have a habit of going on a "fresh foods pilgrimage" several times a year. Some go wild berry picking, mushrooming or follow whatever the local delicacy is. They are in search of these amazing items picked ripe off the vine.
I write this after eating a fresh yellow squash that I just picked this morning. I cooked it up with some parsley that was just plucked out of the front yard. My body is soakin' it up! I also picked some radishes this morning. I almost never choose them at the salad bar, but I ate a few slices as I was cutting them up and they were absolutely delicious. If there is any vegetable that you don't like, try eating it fresh off the vine and you may reconsider your opinion. I bought some stalks of fresh broccoli last year, and couldn't stop eating them. Normally, I eat a few clumps from a veggie tray and need gobs of dressing to make it appealing. With the fresh stuff, I was wolfing it down and just couldn't stop.