With the ebb and flow of the Earth’s seasons, the flux between rainfall in Spring to frost in Winter and the Summer sun, farmers are able to harvest respective foods that rely on the seasonal climates to grow and thrive.
With this in mind, eating seasonally refers to the practise of being mindful of which foods are in harvest in whichever area of the world you live in, and altering your diet accordingly. Impacted by mass, continuous consumerism, and our want for a varied abundance, at any time, on demand, we have become accustomed to eating what we fancy, regardless of the season.
We’re all guilty of it, but it can actually be really interesting to follow the seasons more closely – you might find that you discover more of a variety of fruit and veg over the course of the year, as well as experiencing each food during its period of optimum flavour.
Briefly, I will outline the benefits of adjusting to eating seasonally:
First and foremost, it is way better for the Environment.
When we eat outside of a crop’s natural season, it has to be shipped in from another country where it is in season. In this way, by purchasing food from across the globe, we’re contributing to global warming indirectly, through paying extra towards the airmail costs of transporting the fruit and veg.
Alternatively, it can be grown in un-natural settings, where it will often find itself being treated with additional chemicals like pesticides or fertilisers which promote its growth in place of the natural optimum conditions in which it would naturally grow.
There’s the added bonus that, although not all of the time, locally grown fruit and veg (especially from farm shops) isn’t wrapped up in as much protective packaging as that which needs to be protected from the wear and tear it has to resist during travel, to avoid looking bruised and squashed when it lands in our supermarkets.
If you have ever bought fresh fruit and veg, you know that day-by-day, the flavour diminishes, as does its plumpness and overall rate of satisfaction when you eventually get around to consuming it. It then makes perfect sense that when your fruit and veg has been flown across the world in a refrigerated container, it has lost a good chunk of its lifespan before it has even hit the shelf.
In contrast, the short distance your local produce has had to traverse before it hits your plate is relatively much smaller. What’s more, the shorter delay between harvest and consumption means that we’re able to gain more vitamins from fruit and veg that has been grown locally, in harmony with the seasons.
The earth offers us the most beneficial nutrients for our bodies at particular times of the year, weather according: it seems it is no coincidence that we harvest root vegetables that are most suited to a hearty broth or a herbal roasting; in Summer were offered more stoned fruits and carrots – science says that they contain more beta-carotenes and carotenoids that help to protect us against sun damage.
Returning to my previous point about the environment, it is not only kinder to the earth, but also to our bank balance in that we’re not paying additional costs for the transportation of the food.
Additionally, by buying food with the season, we’re putting our money (and slightly less of it) towards a local economy of independent and smaller scale farmers which is an additional benefit that comes hand in hand with a seasonal diet.
It not only feels more natural to be in alignment of the natural patterns of the Earth, but it is better for our health, and for our tastebuds and our bank balance.
I found the guide to seasonal eating by the Vegetarian Society (https://vegsoc.org/cookery-school/blog/seasonal-uk-grown-produce/) really useful for getting an overview of what to eat depending on the time of the year. Hello, roasted Squash soup, Spring greens and apple pies!