The lines between seasons have been blurred. Now, due to advances in agricultural technology and transportation, we can eat homemade pumpkin pie in the spring and summer squash in the dead of winter. But should we?
“Seasonal” may seem like just another buzzword on the food scene, but it’s one that has real merit. Here are 4 reasons why you should stock up on seasonal fruits and veg.
Better Nutritional Value
Not all strawberries are created equally — and this can pretty much be said about all produce. When buying a fruit or vegetable that’s not in season, you can bet it’s being grown far away. For example, if you’re an Ontarian buying strawberries in winter, they’re probably coming from Mexico or California.
Produce that’s traveling long distances has to be picked prematurely, as ripe fruit and vegetables are more likely to get damaged during travel. This means that produce doesn’t get the chance to reach its full nutritional capacity.
Seasonal produce has a higher nutritional value because it’s grown closer in proximity. Farmers can let it fully ripen because it’s not traveling very far, giving you a bigger nutritional boost for every bite.
Have you ever bitten into a fruit or vegetable to find it void of flavour? Bitter carrots, mealy apples, bland tomatoes, and all those other disappointing bites are the product of being grown out of season.
When grown in season, food isn’t just more nutritious for you, it tastes better too. All those sweet and juicy mouthfuls are the result of food being grown when it was meant to be grown. When fruit and vegetables are in season, they taste the way they were meant to.
(Photo by Kelly Neil)
Eating out of season takes a toll on the environment. For starters, food that’s grown far away has to be shipped all the way to your grocery store. The carbon footprint based on mileage alone is significant. On top of that, these food products are grown using synthetic fertilizers and hot greenhouses that all require fossil fuels.
When fruits and vegetables are in their regular environment and growing season, their fruition is naturally encouraged. They don’t need the use of additional inputs. When the growth cycle is natural, the farming of fruits and vegetables is less harsh on the environment.
Eating fruits and vegetables grown in season means supporting farmers in and around your community. The farms that grow these products are often less subsidized by the government than large industrial farms, and therefore depend on consumer support. When you shop in season, you’re not just supporting the small farmer but also the history and culture of food from your region.
Food for Thought — A Thought for Food
Now you know why you should eat seasonally, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Perhaps where you shop for food just doesn’t get seasonal produce. Or maybe you need to satisfy an unseasonal craving. Hey, it happens.
No matter the reason, it still shouldn’t allow for ignorance. Consumers need to be knowledgeable on when fruits and vegetables are in season. This can be confusing at times because the abundance of choice has blurred the lines of seasonality, but we should still try to be aware. Having some idea of what’s in season may positively impact your grocery shopping — and a little goes a long way.
So check it out. Here’s a great link from Foodland Ontario to see what fruits and vegetables are in season in Ontario, and check online for similar lists in your region.