Have you heard the term “seasonal eating” being thrown around? Chances are that you have! In recent years, the movement to eat local, seasonal food has grown rapidly in popularity. To understand the movement, it’s important to first define “What is seasonal food”? Well, simply put seasonal food is produce that is purchased and consumed around the time that it is harvested. For example, purchasing fresh apples and peppers in season in North Carolina means buying them in the fall shortly after farmers have harvested them. For someone who lives in Brazil, this would mean enjoying citrus foods in the summer months.
But why has the movement brown exactly? This I’m largely part due to seasonal food being fresher, tastier, and more nutritious than food consumed out of season. For example, even though we all like to eat apples year-round, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest. Seasonal fruits and vegetables produced on local farms are often much fresher since they do not require long distances for transport. For example, compare tomatoes from the farmer's market to tomatoes from the grocery store. Chances are the farmer's market tomatoes are juicer, sweeter, and just overall more delicious!
On top of just tasting better, studies have actually shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally on their parent plant. Some anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, folate, and carotenes will rapidly decline when stored for periods of time, therefore it’s important to get your fruits and vegetables as fast as possible if you want the greatest possible nutrients. Lastly, it’s important to touch on the fact that purchasing locally grown foods helps support local farms and local food supports the local economy. The money you spend on products from local farmers and growers stays in the community and is reinvested with other local businesses. In addition, food is grown locally processed locally, and distributed locally) generates jobs in your community. So, it’s a win for everybody!
Local growers can also tell you how the food was grown. When you buy directly from farmers, you have the opportunity to ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops, which is a huge plus for all health-conscious folks out there. Now, you may have a preconceived notion that local food is more expensive, but not necessarily. Sometimes, it’s actually cheaper. When farmers are harvesting a large abundance of produce due to the crop being in season, the cost of the produce will go down. When the produce is locally sourced because it’s in season in your area, then traveling expenses and storage are not required. This reduces the production costs that are then passed onto the consumer. When we buy produce that is out of season, it’s normally sourced from out-of-area locations that have a different climate and it can also be stored for long periods of time to offer people a variety of produce all year round, these factors will push the price up. So, with all these being said, why not give seasonal eating a try? What do you have to lose?!