Eating seasonal produce has so many benefits, not just for ourselves but for the planet as well. This was the standard way of eating for years, but now we can find the same produce year-round in supermarkets.
With such a huge range of products available and an ever-growing list of recipes to try out, it’s easy for us to always end up buying out of season produce from the other side of the world. I’m keen to align with the seasons more, so this year I’m making a conscious effort to buy fewer out-of-season fruit & vegetables and cook with more seasonal produce.
Besides reducing food miles and carbon emissions, it also means you support your own community rather than large companies. You know where your food is coming from and it provides the opportunity to eat more natural, whole foods. Here are a few other benefits of seasonal produce:
Produce that hasn’t spent hours in transit retains its freshness and therefore has higher nutritional value. Once produce is packaged its nutritional level decreases, particularly vitamins such as C, E, A and some B. Sometimes produce is exposed to artifical light, air and temperature changes, all of which can affect the quality.
Local produce consumed soon after being harvested is not only more nutritious, but tastes better too. Fruit and vegetables are given time to ripen instead of being plucked from their branches early to avoid bruising or going off in transit. Local produce is usually picked when it is the right level of ripeness. It can also be a great way to discover new fruits and vegetables. Supermarkets often stock the most popular produce, so finding different seasonal varieties of goods is a nice way to increase the variety of your diet.
Produce in season is more abundant, so it’s generally cheaper. Buying produce out of season involves additional costs, such as travel, time and added expenses to grow it.
Following the pattern of the seasons is an opportunity to align with nature. Certain foods that are in season do contain more of the specific nutrients we need at that time of year. For example, some winter vegetables, such as squash and pumpkin, contain a high proportion of carotenoids (a compound that is converted into Vitamin A). This is key for supporting the immune system, which always needs a boost during the colder months!
If you do have small shops near you selling fresh produce, it’s definitely worth making changes to incorporate seasonal fruit and vegetables into your diet. In doing so, you’ll be benefitting both your health and the planet!