Maybe you have heard nutritionists, dieticians, and food bloggers, touting the importance of Eating Seasonally. But what does it actually mean, and why should we strive to follow it?
Eating Seasonally is consuming fruits and vegetables harvested during the same time of year as consumption — for example, eating citrus during the winter and asparagus during the spring. Doctors, nutritionists, and dieticians are notorious for recommending a fresh fruit and vegetable diet because of its many benefits.
Since the beginning of mass agriculture, buying produce year-round has been easy and convenient. But unfortunately, this disrupts the quality of the produce, the environment, and the local economy. For this reason, eating seasonal produce is essential, and we all should practice it as much as possible.
When in season, the produce is at its peak in terms of harvest or its flavor. This is usually when the product is at its cheapest and freshest.
Seasonal Food Guide
Seasonal produce varies by area. This Seasonal Foof Guide is a useful tool to find what is in season for your state.
A few reasons why eating seasonally year-round is essential
- Higher nutrients and better flavor: Seasonal produce is picked and consumed at the peak of its ripeness (or near it). Therefore, it has a higher nutritional value. On the other hand, foods out of season typically need to be transported from long distances. Thus, the time between being harvested and getting to the plate is a lot longer. This travel time affects the nutrient value and flavor of the food since the produce is often picked before it ripens.
- Fewer pesticides and fertilizers: Seasonal fruits and vegetables are often organic or treated with fewer pesticides and fertilizers.
- Supports the local economy: When eating seasonally, it’s best to buy products from your local farmers’ market. Even the supermarkets offer local produce that is in season. As more fruits and vegetables are consumed seasonally, the demand for out-of-season-out-of-region produce lessens.
- Environmentally friendly: Local means less transport, less refrigeration, and lower emissions. For most out-of-season products, glasshouses are required for out-of-season production – these require significant energy inputs.
- Reconnect with nature: There is a variety of available produce throughout the year by only growing what is in season. That tends to complement the weather conditions of the seasons. Our bodies are meant to eat different foods as the seasons change. During the fall and winter, we crave comfort food to gain more weight and keep us warm. While in spring, we crave greens that are low in calories to help us detox and lose the weight gained during winter. Finally, we eat cool and refreshing produce to keep us cool and hydrated in summer.
Some may say that when we eat seasonally, there could be shortages of a particular product at certain times of the year. This is part of nature’s cycle and leads us to look forward to tasting the next season’s fruits and vegetables. Eating seasonally also provides diversity and excitement to your diet. Our tastebuds are not getting bored by eating the same things all year around.
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** Eat Mediterranean Food is a personal blog and recipes website dedicated to Mediterranean cooking and lifestyle. The readers assume full responsibility for consulting a qualified health professional regarding any health conditions and concerns before starting a health program or diet or lifestyle changes.