Why eat what’s in season? We know that it is better to eat local, seasonal produce. Better for us and the planet. We often don’t, as we are not sure what is in Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter seasons. Now, let’s talk about the benefits of eating seasonal produce.
Understanding seasonality can be useful when planning meals or budgeting for weekly shops. However, it can be difficult to know exactly what is in season and for how long. A simple way to keep up with what’s in season is by keeping an eye on the prices of produce in supermarkets. When the prices drop, that’s usually a sign that the food is coming into the season, whereas high prices are a good indicator that the food is out of season.
Buying foods that are in season, as eating seasonal produce not only tastes better, but it’s also lower in price than other fresh goods that aren’t easily sourced at this time of year.
Seasonal produce is generally harvested at its peak so it retains its full nutrient and vitamin content. Because it has naturally ripened on the vine or in the ground it will have a more complex and rich flavour. It’s no lie that the juiciest and most vibrant tasting fruits and veggies are those that are in season. Nature is wiser than we acknowledge and seasonal foods support season-specific needs. After a long winter, the human body craves detoxification and longs to shed the extra weight of winter. Spring vegetables like spinach help to alkalize our bloodstream and energise us for the warmer months when we typically expend more energy being active.
Eating fresh, ripe produce optimises the concentration of certain nutrients as many nutrients in fresh produce decline over time. Seasonal food will also appear much brighter and vibrant in colour, often more plump than non-seasonal produce which can often look a little lacklustre. The variety of eating seasonal produce also provides multiple health benefits due to consuming a wider variety of different nutrients.
Seasonal food is fresher and naturally at its best so tends to have much more flavour. Fresh, seasonal produce which hasn’t travelled as far tastes better because the produce hasn’t been selectively bred for a longer shelf-life and transportability. When produce is grown and picked in the season it tastes much fresher, riper, sweeter, and more delicious.
On a deeper level, eating in harmony with the cycles of nature connects us more deeply to the earth and fosters in us a respectful reverence for the food we eat. It may sound kind of out there but many holistic nutritionists argue that getting in touch with the earth helps us get in touch with ourselves and our natural rhythms.
Reduced Carbon Footprint
One of the most salient benefits of eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Eating seasonally also reduces the energy and associated CO2 emissions required to grow and transport out-of-season produce. When you buy seasonal produce, you help to reduce the demand for out-of-season produce, which requires shipping/importing from other countries. This means less transportation, fewer fuels, refrigeration, and less irradiation of produce.
Reduced Pesticide Consumption
In addition to the fossil fuels used to transport out-of-season produce to all corners of the world a little something extra needs to be added into the mix to keep these jet-set fruits and veggies fresh. This ‘something’ would be pesticides and preservatives. By avoiding out-of-season produce and choosing locally grown – and organic where possible – we can minimise the intake of chemicals.
Supports local economy
Buying seasonal produce from a local greengrocer, market, farm shop or veg box scheme is a great way to support local businesses and farming.