Why should we eat seasonal fruits and vegetables?
Often we are told that eating seasonal produce has its benefits, but are rarely told why. When at the grocery store, there is always a seasonal area. Or when eating out at a restaurant, there’s a special menu that boasts about their dishes with seasonal fruits and veggies. Seasonal foods are all around us, but we get caught up in our ways when it comes to making food choices. There are many benefits to eating local, seasonal Produce.
Seasonal Food List
What are the Benefits of Eating Seasonal Foods?
1. Cost Efficient
Economics 101 of supply and demand. When there is an overage of a product, the price will go down. For instance, it is April, and I was at the grocery store the other day. I noticed they already had watermelon out, but it was $8.99 for one!! In my mind that is outrageous! Does watermelon sound good? YES! Because I hadn’t seen it since last summer. Was I going to buy it? NO. I know by June that the price will be less than half. Around the 4th of July, I know a watermelon can be bought for $1.99 because it is in season. Seasonal produce is a lot less to produce for farmers who would rather it sell for a lower price, then not at all. There are considerable savings to be had to simply being aware of what is limited and what is in high supply.
Food tastes the best when it is the freshest! As something sits, or leftovers are made, it just never quite tastes right or the same. When produce has fully ripened in the sun and is freshly picked, it has optimal flavor. Crisp, fragrant, juicy and colorful. There’s is nothing like eating a tomato in the summer picked straight from the vine. You can eat it like an apple, raw and warm, and the taste is amazing. In season food can usually be sourced from local farmers, as there are fewer preservation considerations when produce is at its freshest. As a result, seasonal foods can often be some of the freshest, tastiest and most affordable foods available.
When we pick produce before it’s ripe, the nutrients do not fully develop in the flesh of the fruit. A lot of the time, produce is picked before it has a chance to ripen, and shipped to different states. It ripens while being shipped, which can take up to a week. As the week goes on, the nutrition value goes down with each day. Its already known that a balanced diet consists of fresh, unrefined foods that haven’t been processed or tampered with. This is where seasonal, local foods come into play. Produce coming from a farmer down the road and entirely unprocessed, local seasonal foods give you the best chance to get the most out of your food. The best thing about eating seasonally is that your diet changes throughout the year. Thus, getting a huge variety in the menu throughout the year, and enhancing health benefits.
4. Support Local Farmers and Community
if you buy produce from local farmers markets, you’ll have more of a chance at getting foods that are seasonal, and fresh. Just because a massive distributor has seasonal produce, it doesn’t mean the company won’t harvest it early and keep it in a warehouse to ripen for longer. This will cause it to lose nutrition, freshness, and taste. Not only are the local farmers being supported, but also the local economy. When your money goes into the hands of small-scale, local farmers in your area rather than massive distributors, not only do you support your community and local economy, but also transparency and sustainability. The produce grown in your area bears less mileage, and the farmers who grow it are more likely to have organic and sustainably-grown options
5. Getting Creative in the Kitchen
As the season change, so does the produce available. It forces us to be in the kitchen and cook more of a variety of food. In the winter, I am big on throwing everything in the crockpot and making soup. In the summer I like to eat more salads or grill. There is such a variety, and you can get creative with recipes throughout the whole year. Being in the kitchen and cooking is also an excellent activity to do with your kids, family, and friends. I try to include my two-year-old as much as I can with helping cook. When my husband and I first got married, we cooked together all the time. We also, once in a while will have some friends over, and prepare a meal or dessert that we have wanted to try.
6. Organic and Free of Pesticides
When local farmers grow seasonal produce, not much assistance is needed, meaning not much genetically modification or much pesticide use. The toxic compounds used on our food can contaminate the water, soil, and our health. Even when produced is washed thoroughly, the pesticides have still gotten deep into the product while it was growing.
7. Eating Seasonal Health Benefits
Produce has a natural cycle that is perfectly made to support our health throughout the year. Apples are in season in the fall and are the perfect transition food to help our body get rid of extra heat and cool down before the winter starts. In the springtime, we have an increase of leafy greens, which help detox and lose extra pounds we might’ve put on during the heavier foods eaten during the winter. Summertime, which is my favorite time of year for fruit, we need to cool down and keep hydrated! We eat more fruits, berries, cucumbers, watermelon, and many more.
I always say the summertime is more light eating, but feeling refreshed. By building a diet around seasonal food, it helps the body’s natural healing process. When we live in tune with nature, it makes us more aware, and we can appreciate the beauty of the world around us
8. Environmental Benefits of Buying Local Food
When food grows outside its time of year, or season, they need a lot more assistance to grow. This is where more forms of pesticides, waxes, chemicals, and preservatives come into play to help it grow and look appealing to us as the consumer. When choosing to eat locally and seasonally, you are more likely to get cleaner produce. A lot of small farmers can’t afford to get their organic certification but still, follow natural and healthy growing practices. When you shop at a local farmers market, even though it might not be organic, you don’t have to be as careful about the product as you do at a large grocery store.
Also, don’t forget about having to truck all that produce. As we drive in produce from other areas of the country, or wherever it comes from, it requires gas to get the product to the store. This fuel charge is something often added to the price of the food upon delivery. Not only does it raise the price, but don’t forget the pollution and carbon footprint it is leaving.
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