Have you considered how strange it is that we can go to the grocery store and find avocados, mangos, bananas and tomatoes all year round? Thanks to a global market, we have access to fresh produce from all over the world, at any time of the year. However, just because something is available to us doesn’t mean it is necessarily good for us.
There are a number of reasons to eat seasonally. From nutrition to the environmental impact, where you source your food has an impact on your body and the community around you.
Produce that is picked and eaten at its peak ripeness typically has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than foods harvested before they’re ready to be picked. Food that is grown in other countries for export is harvested well before its prime so it won’t spoil on its long journey to market. Purchasing locally grown, in season produce is the best way to ensure you are getting the most nutritious varieties available.
Most people can say they have had a flavorless tomato that is hard as a stone. Likely, it was grown hundreds of miles away in a greenhouse at a time of the year when you would not expect to see a tomato plant in full bloom. A crisp apple on a fall morning is going to have much more flavor and crispness than an apple in the dead of winter. Eating seasonally ensures that you will get the natural flavors and better taste that you should expect from your food.
Our bodies desire to be in tune with the natural rhythm of the seasons. When we are in harmony with the earth, we are more prone to crave foods that are in season. It connects us with the calendar year and our surrounding environment when we eat seasonally. It also helps us to diversify our diet throughout the year by eating only what is locally available.
Food that is imported from all over the world comes at a high environmental price tag. The amount of pesticides used on foods grown out of season to ward off insects is toxic to our bodies, our water and our soil. The distance that foods grown overseas has to travel to fulfill our out-of-season palette results in more fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Eating produce that is grown naturally in season near you greatly reduces your carbon footprint.
Supporting your local farmers by purchasing locally grown produce is a great way to invest in your community and allows you to know where your food came from. Small farms struggle to stay in business as factory farms become more widely accepted. By purchasing farm fresh eggs and locally grown produce you help to keep those committed to growing nutritious foods in business.
Eating seasonally also makes it easier to eat organic fruits and vegetables as well. Foods that have to travel long distances to reach out plates are often covered in toxins and waxes to preserve them.
Learning to eat pumpkins in the fall, asparagus and greens in the spring and berries all summer long doesn’t make it sound so hard, and is really what it means to eat seasonally. Meat is available all year long and our omnivore diets allow us to eat a variety of foods so we never really have to go hungry. Be conscious of your food purchases to maximize the benefits of eating seasonally. It’s better for both you and the environment.