Since yesterday was the last day of summer I thought the topic of eating seasonally would be the perfect segue into Fall blog posts and recipes. As our summer days have now come to an end, we unfortunately have to say goodbye to certain fruits, vegetables and herbs until next season. Eating food that is local and seasonal is beneficial to your health and your wallet for a variety of reasons.
1. It tastes SO MUCH better. Why? Because it is FRESH, picked when it's ready for consumption. When out-of-season produce is shipped to your local grocery store, it is picked long before it is ripe, frozen and then thawed so it has time to mature upon it's way to you.
2. The nutritional value tends to be higher. Why? For two reasons. One, produce that is shipped to you spends a lot of time on and in trucks, boats, etc. while being transported, which significantly lowers their phytonutrient content (due to lack of sunlight). Two, the soil found at local farms is usually FAR better quality than soil used in conventional farms.
3. It is environmentally friendly and helps decrease the footprint we are already leaving behind on our planet. How? When you eat seasonally, there is less demand for out-of-season produce and in turn, more demand for produce that is in season. This gives local farms the opportunity to grow and provide an abundance of crops. This gives us, as consumers, the opportunity to support local farms and also decrease pollution (that would usually come from the transportation of produce from one place to another).
4. It CAN be cheaper. Why? When you go to purchase out-of-season produce at the grocery store, you are paying higher prices for it to be shipped to you. On the other hand, when local farms produce a HUGE harvest of seasonal produce due to the demand, the price tends to go down.
5. You provide your body with more variety. When certain produce isn't in season, try focusing on the produce that IS and expose yourself to food(s) you may not normally eat. Give new fruits and veggies a try, search for new recipes and make some new dishes. Overall, just have fun experimenting with them!
6. You avoid the danger of overseas contamination. I'm not sure if you guys have read any of the horror stories of food grown and or processed overseas to reduce costs. If not, I suggest you do your own research. (Example: an article I read stated that "rice" made in another country and shipped to the US actually contained plastic. PLASTIC. They were selling PLASTIC for human consumption, all while claiming it's "good for you".) Rant over, back to my initial point - when you eat produce from local farms you are aware of the pesticides (if any) used on them. Whereas, in other countries, there may be no regulations at all. You also avoid consuming any toxins or chemicals that become a part of the produce as it travels from one side of the world to another.
One thing I would like to make note of is that eating seasonally and locally is not always possible. You may already be eating seasonally without even realizing it, for example - craving Berries or Melon as soon as Spring or Summer arrive and then moving onto Apples and Pumpkins come Fall. Don't go crazy over it, if you really want a Cantaloupe in the dead of winter - go get yourself one. Bottom line guys - eating new fruits and vegetables helps you form a more well-rounded diet. Eating REAL, COLORFUL food provides antioxidants and nutrients that will NOURISH and FUEL your body, rather than harm it. Some things you can do to ensure that your produce is local are: joining a CSA or CO-OP, growing produce at home and shopping at farmer's markets. If you are interested in being mindful of eating seasonally or locally this year, check out the resources listed below!