Eating seasonal foods is more economical, and is also better for your health and diet goals
These days, it’s often possible to buy whatever types of fruit and vegetables you want throughout the year, whether that’s strawberries or avocados in winter or pumpkins in summer. But, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
How far has your food travelled?
There are a few major reasons to avoid food that has travelled too far to reach you:
1. It’s less environmentally friendly
2. It’s more expensive
3. It doesn’t have the same flavour
While the environmental factor is obviously very important, our concerns here are the other two factors. For food like bananas or avocados to travel across the country (or even the world) and remain fresh, they often must be picked before they’re ready, be heavily refrigerated and ripened en route.
Plus, out-of-season produce tends to be more expensive because it has travelled so far. Transportation costs are significant, so distributors need to make this economical for themselves. Shelf-life considerations are often more important to distributors than nutritional qualities or taste.
As a consumer, what that leaves you with is a piece of fruit that might look “perfect” but taste bland, cost rather a lot of money and not be as good for you as it could be.
Seasonal food tastes better
Even if your out-of-season grocery purchase was produced relatively locally, it may still not be great for you. With large-scale greenhouses and modern farming practices, many foods can be grown out-of-season and not necessarily travel very far to reach buyers. But food grown out of season does not follow the ‘correct’ natural rhythms.
Vegetables grown out of season don’t always ripen up properly, because the sunlight, warmth and other conditions are not ideal for them. So, chemical ripening agents may be used to hurry then along. Such artificially ripened produce is generally much less tasty than its seasonal, natural counterparts
There’s another factor that makes eating seasonally the healthier thing to do. Fruits and vegetables that grow in a particular season tend to provide the types of nutrients and qualities that consumers need in that season.
It’s no coincidence that juicy watermelons, cucumbers and tomatoes come into season as temperatures rise and we sweat more. Apples and pears naturally ripen in the autumn, and contain fibre and pectin that help in the digestion of the denser foods we naturally gravitate towards in the cooler months (such as root vegetables, in season in the winter). Citrus fruit is in season in the winter, just when our bodies need immunity-boosting vitamin C.
This is nature’s way of looking after us. Eating seasonally is an ideal way of following natural growth and harvesting rhythms, and of giving our bodies what they need before we even know they need it! You’re less likely to crave unhealthy, salty, sugary snacks when your body is receiving its optimal nutrition. When you feel good you’ll probably have more energy, too, which is great for your activity plan.
Grow your own fruits and veggies
It’s no secret that organic food can be expensive, but growing your own give you access to the freshest produce and can also help with the budget.
Getting into gardening offers many benefits to your diet and lifestyle. You’ll come to learn about seasonal food and what grows best in each season. You’ll benefit from the freshest produce possible.
If your garden is of a decent size, doing some digging and planting is also a great way to get a workout! You’ll save some money, too. Composting also takes care of your food scraps and means you won’t have to pay for fertiliser.
As with most things related to diet and lifestyle, eating seasonally is about optimising the resources available to you so that you can live your best life, happily and healthily.