Every season has a specific offering of fresh produce, and spending more time shopping for fresh, local produce can not only benefit your health but also save your wallet a little agony too! Take a little time to find out what’s in season and how you can incorporate them into your daily diet. You might be surprised to find out how much better things taste when seasonal, as well as helping you keep healthy while being kind to your wallet.
Including food in your diet that is grown at the same time as you eat it has long been considered a key way to improve your eating habits. But what does this mean? Essentially that in the fall you’d eat zucchini and squash, and asparagus and radishes in the spring.
While seasonal eating has been seen as a little bit of a hipster trend since its recent resurgence, there is plenty of fun and useful ways to engage with eating green. You can get down with your hipster self and instead of shopping at a supermarket, take a tote bag down to the local market to see what’s on offer. If you have green fingers, why not try to grow your own food, which can be an awesome way to get kids excited about vegetables. If you live in a city (or find it challenging keeping plants alive), then plenty of farms will let you visit to pick fresh produce and bring home with you.
Save Money While Eating Better
The most surprising – and yet the most beneficial – aspect of eating seasonal food is that it will actually help you to save money. How is this possible? It’s simply a case of supply and demand.
When food is in season, then it costs much less for farmers and distributors to harvest their wares and get them to the grocery or market. After all, the rarer something is, usually, the price takes a spike. This is why you can actually save money on food, and end up with something fresher and more delicious that’s actually better for you.
The same thing that keeps the cost of seasonal vegetables down also increases the quality and taste of the food. By eating seasonal produce, the fruit and vegetables can be harvested at their peak, has had to travel lesser distances, and is given less time to spoil. So rather than buying food that has had to be sitting in a shipping container (which you then have to pay for at the other end), you are getting local and fresh supplies.
It’s also important to remember that for out of season foods, the exact opposite applies. In order to be shipped to you, they are often picked before their peak flavor so that they don’t spoil on the long journey to your grocery store. They have also had to be packaged and shipped, which means the time, distance, and the number of people who have been involved throughout the process increase the cost per unit.
Improved Health Benefits
When it comes to the health impact of out-of-season foods, there are some surprising side effects. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food in London found that there was a change to the nutrient content in milk depending on which season the cows were milked in. This was attributed to a cow’s less fresh diet during the summer. Meanwhile, research in Japan found that the nutritional content of summer harvested spinach was wildly different from winter harvested spinach.
This is because out of season foods have to be preserved, or are covered in additives, in order to make them look fresher (and sometimes in order to make them look fresher than they are). These additives include pesticides, waxes, and preservatives. Added to this is the fact that research from the University of California found that vegetables such as green beans and spinach lose over 65% of their Vitamin C content within a week of being harvested. So your preserved out-of-season foods have had to travel long distances, and are sitting on grocery store shelves, which means you just may not be getting any of the nutrients you think you’re getting.
Organic seasonal fruits and vegetables have more nutrients in them, which means they are a much better choice for your health.
Support Your Local Community
Buying your food locally – whether that’s at your local farmer’s market or visiting a farm nearby to pick your own – is a great way to ensure that you know your foods are seasonal, fresh, while also supporting members of your local community. Farms and businesses often offer organic and sustainable options, as long as letting you know what their life process has been.
Knowing where your food comes from – both in terms of geography, and respecting the farmer’s role in feeding you, helps to connect and ground you to the whole process. This can also introduce you to a new world of food, as well as communities where you can learn recipes, share information, and become more present when it comes to engaging with your food. Trying new things is a great way to make sure that you’re getting the most from your diet, and don’t find yourself stuck in a rut.
Like many things, eating seasonal foods is a way of returning back to how our ancestors used to live – in the days before planes, trains, and automobiles (oh my!) Choosing seasonal foods is an excellent way to reconnect with our environment and where we’re from, while benefiting from all of the increase in nutrition which this gives you.
To find out where your nearest food co-operative, farmer’s market, or local farms are, you can sign up to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project. Other fresh food delivery services are now making it easier than ever to access healthy, nutritional food, with delivery programs such as “Imperfect Produce” or “MamaEarth”. And if you’re looking for some more advice about eating seasonally – from recommendations to recipes – then take a look at Seasonal Food Guide. Your health, your tastebuds, and yes – your wallet! – will thank you.