BY JOSHUA ANDREWS
As the seasons change around the world, so too does the fresh produce available. It’s easy to forget. It’s not just supermarkets that carry fresh fruit and vegetables year round; even some farm shops import popular produce. However, among these items, seasonal, local items will also be on offer. This impressive array of seasonal fruit and vegetables is a delicious, healthy and sustainable way to eat.
Seasonal eating helps the planet and your community
The most important reason to switch to locally sourced produce is the environmental impact it will create. Importing fruit and veg from overseas brings a whole host of negatives; from CO2 transmissions due to transport and extra refrigeration to keep produce fresh.
The food miles from local farms are significantly lower in comparison. And what’s more, switching to seasonal food is not only beneficial to the environment, it also supports local farms and in turn, the communities surrounding them, helping to grow the local economy. This is The Three Pillars in practice, as it could lead to more jobs, resources and environmental spending in your community.
Health and Happiness
Buying from local sources will limit your choice but it could also take you out of your comfort zone and dare to try something new. Changing your diet from month to month will keep healthy meals fun and exciting. You could experience new tastes that you had never considered before when there was too much choice, or old favourites always on hand
Locally farmed produce will taste fresher and hold more nutrients than their overseas counterpart. This is because once harvested and transported to a different climate, a higher rate of respiration will take place in the produce. Once picked, nutrients begin to degrade rapidly – the quicker it gets to your plate, the better. It’s why locally sourced fruit and veg has a certain taste and freshness that just can’t be beaten.
Here’s another exciting fact worth talking about, the seasonal cycle of local produce has been widely concluded to coincide with our body’s seasonal needs. For example, in the UK leafy greens that grow mainly in the spring months allow our bodies to recover after a winter of eating heavier foods that are high in fat. And summer brings an abundance of juice-filled fruits such as strawberries and gooseberries to keep us hydrated during the hotter seasons. It’s almost as if nature is already perfectly balanced – elsewhere around the world, crops ready to be harvested will be relevant too.
Are there economic barriers to seasonal eating?
Sadly, economic factors are often a barrier to fresh produce. Sustainability is often still a prohibitively expensive option for many households. However, there are ways to make seasonal food choices more affordable. It’s important to remember that produce tends to be more affordable in supermarkets when it’s in season so you can use that to your advantage; it can be the difference between £0.39 for a cucumber in the summer months, to £0.99 in the colder months. And it’s vital to recognise that for many that is a huge difference in increasingly small budgets.
You should never compromise your economic wellbeing so, for example, if purchasing frozen budget brand raspberries instead of fresh provides more for your family, that is absolutely the right – and sustainable – option. Sustainability is not just about environmental concerns, it’s about people too!
Want some seasonal recipe ideas? We’re sharing our favourites here