Eating seasonally not only tastes better, it also comes with many other benefits for your health, your budget and the environment.
The change of seasons not only marks the change of our wardrobes but a transition to an abundance of diverse new seasonal, freshly harvested produce we should be adding to our plates. Changing your food with the seasons ensures our bodies are properly nourished throughout the year by eating the best of what each season brings. As well as vitamins and minerals, fruit and veggies contain powerful phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are the natural compounds that give plant foods their unique flavours and bright colours.
Scientists are only just beginning to understand the many benefits of phytonutrients with more than 5000 being identified. Eating seasonally will naturally help you mix up the variety of fruit and veggies you eat, which is one of the best ways to benefit from all the phytonutrients they provide. Not only this, it also helps you to look forward to and treasure the foods that you may have missed during the different seasons.
Supermarkets have largely contributed to many forgetting that tomatoes, citrus, cucumbers and many other fruits and vegetables simply aren’t available year-round. They are seasonal for a reason, let's explore our top 5 benefits of eating seasonally;
1. Produce tastes better.
You would be hard pressed to find anyone that could disagree with this point. It should be no surprise that buying seasonally means your produce is fresher and tastes sweeter/better as it has been newly harvested – makes sense, right? Purchasing produce for consumption allows food to naturally ripen and is harvested at the right time, which means the result is flavour packed and nutrient rich.
2. Higher nutritional content
Foods that are available out of season have generally been stored for long periods or shipped from halfway around the world to ensure a steady supply year-round Certain antioxidants such as folate, carotenes and Vitamin C rapidly decline when stored for periods of time. All fruits and vegetables start to lose nutrients immediately after they are harvested, so the best produce with the highest nutritional content are those foods eaten as close to harvesting as possible. Have you noticed locally produced, in season fruits and vegetables appear more vibrant than products that have been transported and stored for long periods of time?
3. More bang for your buck
When we eat in season produce, it is at peak supply, therefore it will generally be less expensive than when bought out of season – think storage costs, transportation and reduced supply – all these costs are then passed to the consumer. Talking to farmers at the local farmer’s market is a great way of learning what is in season and why certain products may not be available.
4. Supports your body’s Natural Nutritional Needs
Nature has a way of providing exactly what we need and when, this is clear when looking at seasonal foods. For instance, in Winter citrus is in abundance, and what is associated with winter? Colds and Flu, citrus is full of Vitamin C, perfect for boosting immunity. Root vegetables and all the warm, hearty, and comforting foods are also in season during this time. Perfect foods for making stews, casseroles and soups. Summer on the other hand serves up cooling foods perfect for salads, stone fruits and foods rich in beta-carotenes and carotenoids which help protect us from the harsh summer sun. Cool isn’t it!
In order to promote a healthy lifestyle, we are encouraged to eat a variety of foods to provide our bodies with the full spectrum of essential nutrients needed for vitality and optimal health. Varity is the spice of life after all. Giving our bodies a variety of fruits and vegetables assist our gut bacteria to find a wonderfully healthy and diverse microbiome.
6. Better for the environment
If we all ate seasonally, demand for out of season produce would decline along with transportation, refrigeration, hot house gasses and irradiation of produce. Eating locally and seasonally works with nature not against it.
At Good Harvest we truly believe in eating seasonally and understand the abundance of produce available in supermarkets makes it hard to keep track of what’s actually in season. We realise it is not always possible to eat locally and seasonally for everyone, all the time. Its more about being aware and making decisions where possible that are better for you, your wallet, your health and the environment when you can.
7. It supports your local community
When you buy foods out of season, the large majority of the profits go to the transporter and the retailer – and it’s a safe bet that none of these are based in your local area. Farmers in your region don’t down tools out of season; instead we are busy growing in season fruit and veg all year round. By buying what your local farmers produce, you’ll constantly be feeding the profits back into your own community and that's a win for all!
So next time you are a little disappointed not to see some of your favorite fruit and veg on offer at your local farmers market or in your seasonal box, think about in season alternatives and the greater good for your health, your wallet and your local community.
Eat local, seasonal and organic for a healthy planet, community and you!