The changing of the seasons provides us with the unique opportunity to buy a variety of freshly grown and harvested foods that are only available during that season. Seasonal foods offer a natural diversity that we should take advantage of. Seasonal eating has a number of benefits; it is less expensive than buying food that were grown, out of season, in a hot house or have been imported. This naturally means that you can support your local community and farmers. It also offers the health benefits of eating fresh produce when the offer maximum nutritional value.
Grocery stores provide convenience by having exactly the same foods available year-round so that we are able to buy whatever we want whether its in or out of season. Many of these out of season non-organic foods, often genetically modified, food depend on waxes, chemicals, and preservatives to make them look fresh and tastier than they are. These foods are produced for long shelf life and looks rather than flavor and nutritional value.
Here are four of the amazing benefits of purchasing organic foods in season and from local farmers, markets or grocery stores whenever possible.
1. Health Benefits
Seasonal foods are picked at the peak of freshness and offer higher nutritional content than out of season unripe fruits and vegetables.
It is believed that eating seasonal foods helps to support our bodies natural cleansing and healing abilities.
2. Sustainable Benefits
Organic seasonal foods are grown in a sustainable manner by farmers who really care about protecting our planet.
Organic farmers rotate crops to increase soil fertility, use integrated pest management to control pests using beneficial insects instead of toxic pesticides, and use sustainable composting methods for disposing of organic waste.
By not using toxic chemicals, poisonous pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified seeds, these farmers provide us with healthier foods along with protecting both our planet and the farm workers health. These sustainable methods of raising foods yields a superior product that offers better taste, quality, and nutrition over conventionally raised foods.
3. Environmental Benefits
By making a conscious choice to purchase organic, seasonal, and local foods we help protect our water, air, and land as less transport of fresh produce is required. Hot houses which can drain resources such as water and electricity is less likely to be used.
4. Economic Benefits
When you buy seasonal, locally grown foods you help provide financial support to the farmers in your area which helps to grow your local economy. Seasonal foods are priced much more economically than out of season foods which will save you money on your grocery bills.
There has been considerable controversy, reports Wikipedia about how far people should be encouraged to eat seasonal food. In 2008, the chefGordon Ramsay attracted media coverage when he stated that restaurants should be fined for serving non-seasonal food.
Ramsay said he had already spoken to Prime Minister Gordon Brown about outlawing out-of-season produce. He says it would cut carbon emissions as less food would be imported and also lead to improved standards of cooking.
The TV chef said it was “fundamentally important” for chefs to provide locally-sourced food. “Fruit and veg should be seasonal,” he said. “Chefs should be fined if they haven’t got ingredients in season on their menu. He continued; “I don’t want to see asparagus on in the middle of December. I don’t want to see strawberries from Kenya in the middle of March. I want to see it home grown.”
Jamie Olivers Food Revolution Team
Not only is buying local & seasonal foods great fun you can take the kids along with you and try the samples, picking up news foods you have never tried before to experiment with, but its also great to make the effort to buy fresh fruit and vegetables when they are in season in your area.
Produce is at its peak nutritional value when it is fresh and ripe, so the fresh fruit and vegetables you pick up from a farmers market which are freshly harvested are great for you in terms of maximum health and nutritional benefits. Fruits and vegetables that have travelled long distance to be sold are picked before ripeness, and although the produce might gain color and softness on its journey to the supermarket, its nutritional value decreases – once harvested, a vegetable is as nutritious as it is going to get, and nutritional value decreases every day past harvest.
Seasonal food is not only good for your health but there is an environmental aspect too – although we can now buy foods grown virtually anywhere in the world, these options are not the most sustainable. By buying local you can help decrease the environmental damage of shipping foods thousands of kilometers, and you and your family can enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruit and vegetables.
Remember frozen fruits and vegetables are great for convenience & often are frozen at their peak meaning that they retain their nutritional goodness and quality and therefore are great! But if you can, why not get out in the sun with your friends and family this summer and try some local, seasonal foods using some of the tastiest ingredients you can get. Another bonus is that seasonal produce is often significantly cheaper than produce sold all year round, as theres a glut of it that needs to be sold off.
According to naturalnutrition.co.za, this is South Africas list of seasonal food:
asparagus, artichoke (globe), baby marrow, beetroot, beans, broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, courgettes, cucumber, endive [limited], garlic, green beans, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mielies, new potato, onion, parsley, parsnips, peas, potato, pumpkin, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, Swiss Chard, squash, spring onion, sweet potatoes, turnips, waterblommetjies.
avocados,apricots, bananas, Cape gooseberry, cherry, grapefruit, guava, kumquats, kiwi, lemons, limes, melons, mulberries, naartjies, oranges, paw paw, peaches, pineapple, plums, rhubarb, spanspek, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelons.
basil (perennial), bay leaves, bloody sorrel, bulb fennel, calendula, cat mint, chives, dandelion, dill, fennel, French tarragon (limited), garden cress, garlic chives, lavender, lemon grass stems, lime leaves, marjoram, mint, mustard green & red, nasturtiums, nettle, oreganum, parsley, rocket, rosemary, sage, sorrel, thyme, winter savoury.
Cape salmon, elf, hake, haarders, hottentot, kabeljou, kingklip, monkfish, musselcracker, red roman, red steenbras, skate, snoek, sole, stumpnose, tunny, trout, tuna, tunny, yellowtail (galjoen protected species).
Poultry & meat:
beef, chicken, guinea fowl, mutton, pheasant, partridge, venison.
artichoke (globe), asparagus, beetroot, butternut, baby corn, brinjal, cabbage, carrots, celery, chillies, chives, courgettes or baby marrow, cucumber, endive [limited supply], garlic, green beans, kohlrabi, large variety of lettuce, mange tout, marog, mealies, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, radicchio, rhubarb, spinach, spring onions, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, squash, turnips.
apricots, apples like golden delicious, top red, starking, golden delicious (towards end of summer), bananas, berries like blue berries, strawberries, black berries & raspberries, cherries (1 to 2 weeks only), elderberries, figs, grapes, granadillas, guava, kiwi fruit, lemons, litchis, mangoes, melons like honeydew & pepino, nectarines, paw paws, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, pomegranates, prickly pears, quince, spanspek, tree tomatoes, watermelons.
basil, bay leaves, borage, dill, fennel, lemon grass, marjoram, mint, oreganum, rocket, rosemary, sage, thyme, winter summer savoury.
anise, borage, cornflowers, courgette flowers, dill, elderberry, fennel, lavender, pumpkin flowers.
Cape salmon or geelbek, elf or shad, haarders, hake or stockfish, hottentot (bream) kabeljou, kingklip, monkfish, musselcracker, red roman, red steenbras, skate, snoek, sole, trout, stumpnose, tunny, yellowtail.
artichokes (Jerusalem), avocados, beetroot, broccoli, brinjal, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chives, courgettes, cucumber, endive, garlic (scarce), green beans, horseradish, kale, leeks, lettuce, mealies, mushrooms, onion, parsley, peas, parsnisps, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, spinach, squash (gem), sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, turnips.
Apples like Granny Smith, Royal Gala & Fuji, avocado, bananas, figs, grapes, gooseberries, guavas, lemons, mangoes, oranges (towards end of autumn), paw paw, peaches, pears, plums, pomegranates, pineapples, quince, spanspek, tomatoes, watermelon, winter melons.
basil, bay leaves, dill, fennel, marjoram, mint, oreganum, rosemary, thyme, sage.
Cape salmon, elf, galjoen, hake, haarders, hottentots, kabeljou, kingklip, monkfish, musselcracker, red roman, red steenbras, skate, snoek, sole, stumpnose, tunny, trout.
asparagus, artichokes (Jerusalem), beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celeriac, chives, cucumber, endive, garlic (scarce) horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, new potatoes, onion, parsley, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, rhubarb Swiss chard, spinach, spring onions, squash, sweet potatoes, turnips.
apples, avocado, bananas, gooseberries, guavas, granadilla, grapefruit, kiwi (limited), khumquats, lemons, limes, loquats, naartjies, oranges, paw-paw, pineapples, tomato.
basil (perennial), bay leaves, bulb fennel, calendula, cat mint, dandelion, fennel, garlic chives, garden cress, lavender, lemon grass stems, lime leaves, marjoram, mint, mustard (green & red), nasturtiums, nettle, parsley, rocket, sage (limited), sorrel, bloody sorrel, thyme, sweet marjoram, oreganum, rosemary, winter savoury.
Cape salmon, yellow tail (galjoen protected species), hake, hottentot, kingklip, monkfish, musselcracker, skate, snoek, sole, trout, tuna.
Poultry & meat:
beef, chicken, guinea fowl, mutton, pheasant, partridge, venison