Fruits and vegetables are easy to get our hands on nowadays. Even when it’s not the right time of year for certain ones to grow, there are still stores that will have what you’re looking for. This is because it’s so simple for us to transport food long distances. Nobody stops to think twice about the fact that they can eat berries in January or avocado on toast every day of the year. In reality, this isn’t how it’s supposed to work and we’re not really meant to be eating fruits and vegetables when they’re not in season.
In fact, most people have no cooking clue when fruits and vegetables are and aren’t in season. We’ve lost touch with our natural instincts. Looking back, about 100 years ago, most people knew the best time to pick blueberries. They’d know which fruits and vegetables would grow best in their area and when. Things have changed rapidly with convenience and instant gratification. So much so that we’ve lost touch with our natural environment entirely. These are basic ideas and believe it or not, they have a big impact on our well-being. Modern lifestyles are to blame for creating this rift between us and our natural connection to the Earth.
We’re not suggesting that you go out and start your own farm in your garden. You can, but that’s a lot of work. We just want you to know what’s in season, why to choose it instead and why it’s important to eat according to the season. It might be convenient and all but convenience still hasn’t managed to preserve the taste of the fruits and vegetables either. Whereas eating seasonal fruits and veggies provides better taste and nutrition.
When you buy out-of-season produce, you’re facing early picking, cooling, and heating procedures. All of which reduces the taste of the fruits and vegetables. Better yet, produce that’s in-season has spent less time from farm to table, so its nutrition and flavor are preserved.
The next time you visit your local grocer, be sure to check that your goods are in-season.
Fruits And Vegetables Are A Seasonal Purchase
There are many reasons why it’s better to buy seasonal produce. However, a major factor is that it costs much less. This is because growing in bulk is more common when produce is in season, which cuts costs significantly. In addition, buying local produce cuts transportation costs, and local produce is more likely to grow seasonally.
You might not think much of it, but our bodies are designed to eat seasonally. The fruits and vegetables grown in different seasons provide different nutrients to help keep us strong for the season we’re in. For example, fall and winter provide produce rich in vitamin C. This helps our bodies to stay healthy during cold and flu season. And then in Spring and Summer, peaches, nectarines, and other stone fruits contain vitamins that help protect against sun damage. Therefore, you need to eat fruits and vegetables in season to provide your body with the necessary nutrients appropriate for the time of year. Who knew?
Not only will you save costs eating food in season, but you will also reap the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables. Dieticians state that you get the maximum amount of nutrients the [produce] has to offer when it’s picked when it is ripe and sold to you over the next few days.
It’s true that fresh produce loses certain nutrients over time once it’s harvested. This is because the longer it sits in storage, travels to the grocery store, and sits on store shelves. The more the nutrients it contains starts to deplete. This often happens with spinach. Research shows that it can lose 47 percent of its folate content after eight days of storage. Moreover, the spinach loses 80 percent of its vitamin C content after just three days. However, fat-soluble vitamins like A and K are less vulnerable to degradation.
Essentially you want to buy the freshest of the lot every time you go shopping. Fresh fruits and vegetables won’t have this problem. So bear in mind that those blueberries shipped in from Chile in December may not be as nutrient-dense as the ones you enjoy during the summer. We encourage you to eat as much as possible. The nice part about it is that you get to enjoy trying different fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Although you won’t have your favorite produce year-round, you’ll be able to look forward to eating it when its season returns. Besides, they will taste much better too. Food must always taste good and to it, it all starts with where and how you buy your produce.
Having said that, we don’t all live in an area with a wide variety of choices. Luckily, research shows that there are other impactful ways to reduce your environmental footprint through diet. You can try reducing food waste and meat consumption. In fact, consuming a more plant-based diet despite their origin, is still one of the best things you can do for your health and the planet.
Just think about the effects of long-distance travel on not only the nutritional value of our food and the costs but also the environmental impact. There are a lot of fuel emissions happening. But the fact is, more than half the fruit and almost one-third of the vegetables bought in the U.S. are imported. You can do your part to help by buying locally produced fruits and veggies. You’ll be eating seasonally, cutting fuel emissions and transportation costs. Buying locally also helps support your local farmers.
Better For Your Health
As mentioned, fruits and vegetables grown seasonally are packed with nutrients. Studies show that broccoli grown during its peak season has a higher vitamin C content than when it’s grown during spring. This is because foods grown out of season, aren’t able to follow their natural growing and ripening rhythms. Year-round fruit and vegetables must undergo post-harvest treatments where farmers use ripening agents. These include chemicals, gases, and heat processes. Some produce is also coated with an edible film to protect it.
This is how we are able to mass-produce fruits and vegetables throughout the year. We are able to slow down the maturation and ripening process. They also help to protect the produce from bacteria and other pathogens on their long journey from the fields to your local grocery store. This is an efficient process for meeting consumer demand year-round, however artificially ripened produce is often not as nutritious or tasty as naturally ripened produce.
Even dairy products are seasonal. A 2018 U.K. study analyzed cow’s milk from local creameries in Northern Ireland to assess iodine and selenium content. While the researchers found that the selenium content was not affected by the season, they discovered that milk produced in the spring had a higher concentration of iodine than in autumn. Milk is the most important source of iodine in the U.K. and Ireland, so seasonal changes could have a big impact. Interesting, right?
Maybe you’re up for the challenge but have no clue which fruits and veggies are seasonal. Check out the list we’ve put together below to help you select your fruit and veggies. Remember that where you live affects what’s available during each season, but this can give you a general idea.
- Bean Sprouts
- Leafy Greens
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
- Winter squash
Take advantage of the season you’re in because chances are your body probably needs it! Enjoy the nutritional and flavor benefits by using it and remember that buying fruits and vegetables in season is better for your body and better for your community.
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4 Reasons To Eat By The Seasons + What Is In Season Right Now. MBG Food. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4807/10-Reasons-To-Eat-Whats-In-Season.html
EXPERTS ALWAYS SAY TO EAT SEASONALLY—BUT WHAT’S REALLY IN IT FOR ME? Well and Good. https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/eating-in-season/
Seasonal Fruits and Veggies. Medical West. http://www.medicalwesthospital.org/seasonal-fruits-and-veggies.php
The Benefits of Eating Seasonal Produce and our Favorite Spring Fruits and Vegetables. Deliciously Plated. https://deliciouslyplated.com/food-articles/the-benefits-of-eating-seasonal-produce/