To market, to market: Why you should eat with the seasons
Have you ever noticed that when the weather turns colder, you start craving certain foods? Roasted root veggies, chunky soups and casseroles…yum. Then when summer rolls around, you want foods to cool you down, like refreshing watermelons and mangoes.
Our bodies are naturally built to change with the seasons. Yet in our local supermarket, nothing changes. We can still buy the same fruit and vegetables in winter as we can on the hottest summer day. We have become so accustomed to having any food at our disposal all year round that we have lost sight of what we are supposed to be eating at different times of year.
Eating with the seasons has big benefits for your health, environment and purse strings – not to mention your taste buds. Here’s why you should get with the season
Did you know fresh fruit and vegetables start to lose nutrients as soon as they are harvested? That’s why picking produce at its peak, when it has had a chance to fully ripen, is more nutritious. Most out-of-season food has been grown in artificial conditions, picked prematurely and traveled huge distances, giving it ample time to deteriorate and lose nutrients.
These nutrients often correspond to our body’s seasonal needs. Leafy winter greens such as spinach and silverbeet (Swiss chard) contain nutrients such as iron, calcium and vitamin C, which play an essential role in our immune system. Naval oranges are another natural way to ward of winter colds. Plus, by eating seasonally you add amazing variety to your diet.
Choosing to eat seasonally will reward you financially as seasonal fruit and veg are often cheaper than out-of-season produce. It’s the basic law of supply and demand. Almost anything that’s in season will be plentiful, and therefore cheaper. If it’s out of season, it needs to be sourced from further away or is far more labour intensive and time-consuming to produce locally – both of which are reflected on the price tag.
Have you noticed how foods taste better when they are in season? In fact, it tastes exactly how it is supposed to – that’s because it’s had the chance to fully and naturally ripen before being picked. Compare the taste of a beetroot now to one bought in December and you will know the difference. Fresh food in season is simply unbeatable in terms of taste, texture, colour and vitality.
More Environmentally Friendly
To keep the shelves stocked with every fruit and veg through all four seasons, your local supermarket sources produce from far and wide. What’s more, because these foods have been picked too early and have traveledlong distances, they don’t look as appetising as when they are in season. To make them look better, a few chemicals are added here and there, along with wax coatings and preservatives. Seasonal foods don’t need to travel as far as foods that are out-of-season, so eating seasonally can help reduce your carbon footprint. They also naturally look great, which means fewer chemicals.
How to eat seasonally
- Visit your local farmers’ markets. This is a sure fire way to learn what’s in season – if it’s not available, chances are it’s not in season. You can locate your nearest farmers’ market at www.farmersmarket.org.au
- Get a decent seasonal chart that shows you which foods are at their best during which months. Check out www.seasonalfoodguide.com, which contains heaps of information about seasonal food in Australia.
- Ask Your Private Chef to help!