Knowing the best times to buy different fruits and vegetables can boost your food and it’s lighter on the pocket too.
Each season offers an array of beautiful fresh produce, this is a great time to start experimenting and trying new recipes or reworking those old ones to incorporate more seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Not only will your palate be impressed but there are health benefits too. Here are the many benefits to eating seasonally!
Seasonal food is often cheaper than out of season produce because it doesn’t require anywhere near as much effort to produce. Food can be pretty much left to grow on it’s own which means less labor and time-consuming, however, when we buy produce that is out of season, it’s normally sourced from out of area locations that have a different climate and it can also be stored for long periods of time to offer people a variety of produce all year round, these factors will push the price up.
As consumers, many of us don’t realize the hidden cost of out of season food and we’ve probably got so used to seeing strawberries in our shops all year round, we forget what the taste of a real, seasonal strawberry is like!
Likewise, why we pay so much money for a punnet of out of season blackberries when for three months of the year, you can pick them for free?! Fact is, if we learn a bit more about the seasons and try to buy food accordingly, we can start to cut down on costs and enjoy tasty, healthy foods.
Flavour and taste
For most of us, the taste of the food we buy is every bit as important as the cost, if not more so. When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste. Compare a dark red, vine-ripened tomato still warm from the summer sun with a winter hothouse tomato that’s barely red, somewhat mealy, and lacking in flavor. When transporting crops, they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t rot during transportation. They may not ripen as effectively as they would in their natural environment and as a result they don’t develop their full flavor.
Strawberries and cherries taste great in the summer but buy them in the winter and you’ll be grossly disappointed with the taste, texture and flavour. Food that’s allowed to grow and ripen properly is far tastier than artificially produced food that’s travelled thousands of miles to reach the supermarket shelves.
Seasonal fruit and vegetable can be grown naturally in the great outdoors without the use of expensive greenhouses, GM crops or pesticide chemicals.
The majority of seasonal produce is grown organically and most probably locally, meaning we can help to support our local farmers and support the local economy.
Local food is left until it’s ready to be picked, whereas food that travels from different countries loses much of its flavour in transit or it simply doesn’t have a chance to develop flavour in the first place as it’s picked too early in the season. Local food is also much better for the environment as it is entirely air-mile free, meaning less or even no emissions were involved to get it onto our plates. Locally in-season sourced fruits and vegetables will also appear brighter, more vibrant and higher in nutritional value.
Fruits and vegetables that are stored for long periods of time due to transportation or to be used at a later date have a reduction in phyto-nutrient content and some anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, folate and carotenes will rapidly decline when stored for periods of time. Large markets and grocers may buy out of season produce that has been gassed, irradiated (a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preserved in wax to extent the shelf life
New experiences with food
If you follow the seasons you’ll also find a rich and varied collection of fruit and vegetables which will tempt little ones to experience lots of interesting tastes and textures, whilst learning about different fruit and vegetables.
Avoids Overseas Contaminates
When fruits and vegetables are sourced overseas you can’t be sure what their regulations for pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are. Many countries across the globe have very relaxed laws about chemicals being sprayed on fruits and vegetables that other countries have banned due to their known harmful effects.
Overseas agriculture may not regulate soil contamination tests to ensure land and soil quality. Some agricultural areas have been shown to have very high heavy metal and other toxic contaminates due to industrial sites inhabiting the same area. Health practices in some countries may leave a lot to be desired.
Produce such as garlic is irradiated, bleached and sprayed with methyl bromide to withstand quarantine and long periods of travel as many of fruits and vegetables are that make the long haul trip in ships. When produce is in season, cheaper and often on sale it’s a great time to buy in bulk for yourself and preserve, pickle, ferment, freeze and store your own food at home. I collect berries, mangoes, peaches, nectarines in season and store in the freezer, chopped up for later use and I can be sure where they have come from.
It’s really important to note that it’s not always possible to eat locally and seasonally for everyone all of the time. It’s more about the importance of making decisions where possible that are better for you, your wallet and your health where you can.