What’s all the fuss about eating seasonally?
You see the word “seasonal” popping up everywhere at grocery stores, as you flip through cook books, and restaurants. It’s not just a happy, “feel-good” word that is used for marketing purposes to catch your attention. Yes, the seasons are wonderful and bring a lot of joy to our culinary adventures, but there’s more to eating seasonally than you would expect!
Here’s a little challenge to see how much you know about what’s in season. The next time you are at the grocery store try to identify which items are in season and which ones are not. If you’re not sure, or if you know for a fact something is not in season, check that little sticker label on that piece of produce to find out where that item has been shipped from. Now, think about what measures that piece of produce had to go through to get into your hand. Who harvested this piece of fruit? Did they have fair wages? How far did that fruit have to travel to get here? Was it put on a boat or shipped via plane? How much nutritional value is still contained after all that travel time?
When you start to ask these questions, a simple trip to the grocery store becomes not so simple anymore. Isn’t it interesting that every time you walk into the grocery you know exactly where to find the bananas because its in the exact same spot at almost any time of the year. And, what’s with tomatoes available all year round?
The agriculture industry has been catering to our year-round demand for these items for decades with profitability as the main driving force of it all. As a result, we are burning more fossil fuels, extracting natural resources, and degrading our environment. So how can we minimize these impacts? Eating seasonally.
In fact, there are many additional benefits to eating seasonally. It’s less costly, more nutritious, and gets us one step closer to taking better care of our planet collectively. As the demand for seasonal produce increases, local farms end up benefitting greatly because they’re able to meet that demand compared to farms far away.
The biggest win to eating seasonally is that you are most likely eating what your body craves. For example, winter root crops such as beets and carrots, have high caloric content and are packed with vitamins to keep your immune system in optimal shape through the colder winter months. In addition, summer crops, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, keep you hydrated and energized, allowing you to better combat the summer heat!
So with all these options for produce and with little to no knowledge of what’s in season, how can you ensure you are eating seasonally? Here are a few suggestions:
- Sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share from a local farm.
- Shop at your local farmer’s market, keep an eye out to notice the seasonal trends of what your local farmers are bringing.
- Check those little sticker labels the next time you’re buying produce to see how far your food has traveled to get here.
All in all, it’s about growing a deeper connection and appreciation for the food you eat. Furthermore, connecting with the seasons will reward you by adding more happiness and health to your life!