Eat what's in season. Eat organic. Eat local. We are faced with so many food movements telling us what to eat and where to buy our food. So what does eating seasonally really mean?
Eating seasonally simply means eating fruits and vegetables that are grown and harvested at the time of the year that you buy and cook them. That means squash in the summer/fall and mushrooms in spring/fall for example. We did some digging and here's our top 5 reasons why you should (really) do it.
1. It tastes better
The taste of the food we buy is every bit as important as its cost, if not more so. In-season produce are picked for consumption and have been naturally ripened and harvested at the right time. This allows it to develop its full flavor, is fresher and tastes better. Think of plump and sweet dark red cherry tomatoes ripened on its vine and compare that to a pale tomato in the winter, that's barely red, isn't juicy and lacks flavor.
Food that is not grown in season locally is either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, affecting its taste. When transporting produce, it is harvested early and refrigerated to keep it from spoiling - chilling produce for long periods of time reduces its flavor tremendously. When the produce reaches its destination, it is then heated in a hothouse that artificially ripens the produce before it hits the shelves.
2. It's easy on the wallet
The biggest tangible benefit of eating seasonally is that you'll save a tonne of money on food. In-season produce are at the peak of its supply, which in turn costs less for farmers and distribution companies to harvest immediately and get to your grocery store. Transportation and production costs are kept low, keeping costs low for consumers. This all seems like common sense, but we don't keep these factors in mind when shopping.
3. It's fresher and more nutritional
In-season produce get more sun exposure, is picked when its ripe and allowed to be fully developed. This means it retains more of its nutritional goodness and have higher levels of antioxidants - you can see this in its brighter and more vibrant colors. In contrast, produce that is stored for periods of time for transportation rapidly decline in antioxidants and phyto-nutrients such as Vitamin C, carotenes and folates. In addition, some large supermarkets have been known to buy out of season produce that have been gassed, irradiated and preserved in wax to extend its shelf life - yikes!
4. It's safe, organic and free of pesticides
Produce sourced overseas may not abide by the same standards and regulations for pesticides, waxes, chemicals and preservatives before it reaches consumers. Additionally, agriculture overseas may not regulate soil contamination tests to ensure land and soil quality. At the end of the spectrum, there are also some countries that lack ethical food practices on a whole other level - China has been outrageously inventive in creating fake products and fake food.
5. There's more variety
When you go seasonal, you open up your diet to a broader variety of fruits and vegetables. It's a great way to explore ingredients you may not have otherwise explored, and in turn help you eat a more well-rounded diet. What's also great is that it keeps things challenging and exciting in the kitchen, pushing you to be more creative with your recipes based on the produce that you have.
So open up to eating seasonally and incorporate it into your shopping habits wherever possible. I promise you will be rewarded with high-quality produce, packed with nutrition, at a lower cost - and it's full of flavor!