5 Reasons Why It’s A No-Brainer To Start Eating Seasonally
The reasons to eat what’s in season aren’t only logical, they’re awesome. Wellbeing expert, Nikki Heyder, explains why this might be the smartest thing you can do for yourself, your wallet, your community and the planet.
Browsing the aisles of your local supermarket, have you ever stopped to consider where all that colourful, fresh produce comes from? Most would make the assumption that surely, all of that fruit and veg comes from some farm only a few hours away, and if not, who cares – at least we’re eating our veggies, right?
Why aren’t we eating seasonally?
As our world ‘flattened’ and the ability to collaborate globally became increasingly easy, importing literally whatever we need to meet customer demands increased, too. We want what we want, when we want it, and a culture of being used to instant gratification means we no longer rely on our local farmer to harvest his seasonal crop. In fact, most people probably wouldn’t even know when tomatoes where actually in season if they were asked.
We’ve become so accustomed to expecting that our supermarket will have everything we need at any given time that we don’t really think that perhaps it’s unnatural for us to be consuming oranges in the summertime, or tomatoes in the winter. But does it really matter if we eat an imported lemon or a local lemon?
Here are five pretty persuasive reasons why eating seasonally is better all round:
#1 True freshness and taste
Have you ever eaten an under-ripe strawberry or a ‘floury’ apple? Eating foods out of season means we compromise on flavour. When foods are grown and picked at their prime, their natural juices and therefore flavour is also at its prime.
Storing foods for long periods or time or harvesting foods before they are ready means we loose out on the beauty of eating them as they are supposed to taste.
#2 Nutritional content
All of our imported fruit and veg is either picked when it’s under-ripe (in order to ripen during the transport process), been frozen, or is stored for long periods on time before arriving on our grocery shelves. Think about it – if you buy a lemon from the USA, it’s travelled over 12,000kms to get to you!
The nutritional content of fresh food starts to deteriorate as soon as it’s picked or harvested, so an orange that’s travelled for weeks to get to our shelves won’t be nearly as nutrient dense as one picked only a few days earlier.
#3 Local produce usually costs less
Importing from half way across the world doesn’t happen free of charge. You may not notice but next time you go to the supermarkets and buy produce that’s out of season, it will be surprisingly expensive.
A punnet of strawberries can range from $1.90 to $5.00 per punnet depending on which season you buy them in. If you buy in season, you’re not only doing your body a favour nutritionally, but you’re also saving some pennies.
#4 There’s an environmental impact
One of the most concerning elements of buying produce that is imported is the impact it has on our environment.
‘Food miles’ is a term used to explain how far your food has travelled to get from harvest to plate. If our food is travelling thousands of kilometres to get to our mouths then the greenhouse emissions from boats, trucks and planes are having a serious effect on our environment. There’s also the energy consumption utilised in refrigerating, storing, and moving the out-of-season produce.
#5 Community matters
Even back in 2012, federal government data analysis conducted by the Sunday Age found the importation of processed fruit and vegetables had risen by 60% over the previous seven years and was worth over $1.5 billon per year. A surge in importation basically means that we’re not supporting our local farmers and communities, which translates to financial struggle and difficulty for them to keep harvesting and selling their produce. And when the carbon-imprint is far lower supporting locally-grown produce, it almost doesn’t make sense that we buy imported produce.
So how do you know what’s in season?
Luckily, the Internet has our backs and this information is readily available if you visit the Australian Seasonal Food Guide website.
Alternatively, all you need to do is find your local farmer’s market and see what’s readily available – not only will this bring diversity to meal times but you’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing that you’re bettering the community, the environment and your body.
Here’s a few of my favourites to get you started:
Nikki Heyder is a Perth-based Nutritional Counsellor and Director of NOOD. You can follow her on Instagram @nood_eatnourishinspire