Reasons to eat in season
Eating seasonally isn't a new idea, though it does sound trendy. Before global transportation was commonplace as it is today, eating seasonally and locally was just the norm.
Now all seasons produce is available for most of the year so it’s easy to lose track of its seasonality. If you buy from the supermarket just look at the price of food - if it's cheaper its usually in season. Frequent your local farmers market or better yet grow your own and you'll learn quickly as you go.
Just a few of the benefits achieved from seasonally eating:
It tastes way better Produce in-season is fresher, tastes better, and perfectly ripe. Fruits and vegetables that have been naturally ripened on the vine or the tree and picked at the right time, have much more flavour and higher nutrient levels. Most people have experienced that super juicy orange in winter or the sweet strawberries in summer. When crops are transported, they must be picked early and refrigerated so they don’t spoil; chilling reduces the flavor. When they arrive at their destination they are often heated or gassed to artificially ripen the produce before it goes on the shelf. this process changes the texture, reduces the flavor and taste. I'm thinking floury apples, watery tomatoes and limp greens. High probablity the food is half rotten inside like those brown stringy avocados.
Fresher with a Higher Nutritional Value Produce purchased in season is likely to be fresher and higher in nutrient value.
Vegetables and fruit have a set amount of nutrients when harvested and start to lose them the minute they are cut off from their food source. Once harvested, they begin to consume their own nutrients in order to stay alive. This decline is hastened by the things we do to them i.e. anti-oxidants like Vitamin C, beta-carotene, folate decline rapidly when exposed to heat, light and stored for periods of time. Due to demand supermarkets buy out of season produce that has been gassed, irradiated (a burst of radiation to destroy germs) and preserved in wax to extent shelf life.
Summer foods like stone fruits provide us with extra beta-carotene's and other carotenoids that help protect skin against sun damage. Salad vegetables are tasty and cooling for summer salads. In winter, citrus is widely available, these fruits are particularly high in Vitamin C which is vital for preventing infections like colds and flu’s. Winter vegetables are grounding and offer comfort served in healthy stews, soups, casseroles and other warming meals.
The cost of the produce goes down when farmers harvest a large amount of produce due to the crop being in season. If the produce you are purchasing is locally sourced; travelling expenses and storage are not required reducing the production costs that are reflected in the final price.
Avoids Overseas Contaminates Fruits and vegetables sourced overseas can have different regulations for pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Many countries have relaxed laws about chemicals being sprayed on fruits and vegetables that other countries have banned because of their harmful effects. Overseas agriculture may not regulate soil quality resulting in high heavy metal and other toxic contaminates in the soil when tested. Produce like garlic is irradiated, bleached and sprayed with methyl bromide to withstand quarantine and long periods of travel in ships.
A good tip is when produce is in season and cheaper buy in bulk and ferment or freeze and store at home. We collect berries and feijoa's and put them in the freezer or store the pumpkins and garlic in the garden shed.
More Environmentally-Friendly Eating seasonally supports local providers and farming in your area which meaning less transportation, storage and irradiation of produce.
Getting to know who is growing your food, how they grow it and where its coming from helps you feel more connected to the whole process. Community gardens, Local food swap initiatives and Farmer's markets stall owners share their knowledge, answer questions personally and engage in our own local environment. Big changes can happen when we support each other!
So determine what’s in season right now! You’ll be rewarded with high quality produce, that's packed full of nutrients, at a lower cost. Plus your taste buds will definitely thank you for it!