The Ultimate Guide to Eating in Season
With each new season, the changing weather brings with it all manner of fresh fruit and produce that's ripe for the taking. At peak tastiness, these periodic yields are elevated to the next level, with flavour and texture both at their best. Some view it has a bit of a trend, others simply find it a sensible way to make the most of the months' produce. However you view it, the undoubted benefits of seasonal eating aren't exactly in short supply either.
Here, we'll go into what seasonal eating entails, the plethora of benefits it brings throughout the year, as well as identifying the pick of the bunch of the best seasonal fruit and veg.
Season's eatings: what do we mean by the term?
We're not exactly exposing any big secret here but get this: seasonal eating means consuming fresh produce at a time of year when it's naturally ready for harvest. Seriously though, those who eat seasonally incorporate all manner of local and nationally grown fruit, veg, salad, crops and herbs into their diet, an undoubted boon to the environment too. Grown at specific times of the year, they'll vary from season to season, but it means that rather than being harvested early to withstand shipping, their nutrients will be in tip-top condition.
The reason for the season: why go seasonal?
While shopping for year-round produce at your local supermarket is a convenience we're all used to, there are all manner of benefits we miss out on as a result. Think about going local with your produce purchasing, as there are many advantages you could enjoy if you do.
It tastes better
As we've hinted at, seasonal produce just tastes better. Produce that's ripened naturally and harvested at the right time is packed with more flavour and nutrition than your average supermarket-bought fare. The produce you might be used to is harvested early and refrigerated during transportation, which reduces the flavour markedly. After this, they may need to be heated in a hothouse for artificial ripening, further decreasing the flavour, as well as the texture and taste.
Higher nutritional content
It makes sense then, that this better-tasting produce is also higher in nutritional value than regular supermarket offerings, which have usually been stored for longer periods of time during transportation. As a result, they'll have reduced levels of phyto-nutrient content, vitamin C, folate and carotenes. Additionally, large chain stores will have bought out-of-season produce that has been gassed, irradiated and preserved in wax for a longer shelf life, which doesn't sound great, does it?
Free from contaminants
Similarly, if fruits and vegetables are sourced from overseas, it can be difficult to determine what their regulations for pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are. Produce sprayed with these kinds of things could be harmful. Instead, it's much better to buy in-season and preserve things yourself.
In the long run, buying in season tends to be cheaper too. The locally-produced harvest means that travelling and storage expenses are cut down or not required at all, so the production costs that are passed on to the consumer are reduced too. Out of season produce can sometimes be sourced from countries with different climates, so the storage needed to preserve them can push the price up accordingly.
More environmentally friendly
The knock-on effect of this reduced demand means that eating seasonally can have a positive impact on the environment. Buying more local produce in season supports local farming in your area, so there is less need for transportation, refrigeration, hothouses and irradiation of produce as a result.
Supports the body
The seasonality also helps to provide essential nutrients when you need them most. Winter can obviously be a breeding ground for all sorts of infections and colds. It's a good thing that it's also a boom period for things high in vitamin C, which is excellent for fighting off these kinds of maladies. Plus, who doesn't love tucking into hearty stews, soups and casseroles when it's cold outside? Likewise, leafy greens like kale and cabbage are in abundance, providing an excellent source of iron and folate to fortify us in the colder temperatures.
In the summer, stone fruits boost levels of beta-carotene that can protect us against sun damage too, and a bit of fresh fruit at peak levels of tastiness is always refreshing when it's hot outside. In the autumn, fungi and mushrooms are in rude health, fuelling our bodies with vitamin D as daylight becomes scarcer and scarcer.
What's in season and when?
Eating in season doesn't have to be hard if you know when to look for your favourite fruit and vegetables. For the best tasting meals store them and use them year-round. To help you remember when each fruit or vegetable is in season we have created a calendar as well as a more simple chart for you to keep on hand whenever you're looking for the best a season has to offer.
To help the best seasonal produce last a little longer, don't forget that they can all be stored using the FoodSaver vacuum sealing system, to help you save money and reduce food waste. For more information about our innovative vacuum sealers, visit our homepage.