The concept of seasonal eating is not a new one. Before the arrival of supermarkets, we grew our own foods and used what was available. These days, we’re spoilt for choice with an abundance of fruit and veggies grown locally and available within days of picking at our local grocers and supermarkets. In fact, our growers work hard to extend the seasons of our favourite fruit and veg using greenhouses and growing the same crop in different climatic regions to stagger harvest times. However, it still makes plenty of sense to shop by what’s in season. Here are the top reasons why.
Better for the environment
Our favourite foods can take a toll on the environment, food production and transport release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and fossil fuels, which contribute to acid rain, air pollution, and global warming. Eating seasonally and locally helps cut down on environmental impact. Be sure to also keep an eye out for minimal packaging; the less packaging a food has, the less energy and chemicals expended and the less waste produced.
Eating with the seasons saves you money
Eating food that’s in-season means it is generally in peak supply, so it’s not only fresh and tasty but it’s likely to be much cheaper. Go to your local farmers markets and talk to the growers about what’s in season.
Support your local farmers
Whether you make it to your local farmer’s market or you pop seasonal produce in your shopping basket, you’re supporting local growers. In supermarkets, most fresh fruit and veggies will have a sticker or a sign telling you where it is grown. Don't forget to pack your reusable basket and produce bags before heading out to shop.
Living leaner & longer
If you’re buying seasonal produce, chances are you’ll be filling your plate with more fruit and vegetables. Research has consistently shown a well-balanced vegetarian diet (made up of vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes) can help reduce your risk of major lifestyle diseases, help you live longer, and also help with weight management.
As well as vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables contain powerful phytonutrients. These are the natural compounds that give plant foods their bright colours and unique flavours. There are more than 5000 phytonutrients and scientists are just beginning to understand their many health benefits. 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.
Our bodies crave seasonal change
The changing seasons and our subsequent changing diets are basically nature’s way of adjusting out bodies for the coming shift. In the spring, for instance, leafy greens like spinach help us detox and alkalize after a heavier winter diet; in summer, we naturally replenish lost fluids and cool down with cucumbers, melons, and so on.
So, what’s in season for autumn?
Autumn brings with it a multitude of delicious fruits and veggies. Favourites like apples, pears and mandarins. As for veggies, root vegetables such as sweet potato/kumara and parsnips are in season, as well as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. These veggies make the perfect bases for warming soups, stews and curries during the cooler months.
If you’re not sure what’s seasonally available in your area right now, visit Seasonal Food Guide to make a difference environmentally and economically.