Today’s supermarkets are notorious for having things like apples, oranges, kiwi and other seasonal fruits year-round. For those who are wanting the convenience of summer fruits in December (or winter fruits in the summer), this can seem like a great thing! But is eating out of season really a great idea?
Traditionally speaking people used to eat what was ripe during the season it was ripe. When food preservation was developed foods could be preserved during their peak season for consumption in the off-seasons. This wasn’t a bad idea because the foods were still grown locally and when consumed they were still in their whole form. As the demand for store-bought foods grew and people grew less of their own foods, it became commonplace to find fruits and vegetables in the markets during their off-season because these foods could be grown in distant places and transported to the stores for purchase. This is problematic for several reasons.
Transporting produce over distances requires trucks to carry large quantities of produce which can then be split among different retailers, but these trucks then add to the pollution and congestion of the roadways. Likewise, trucking food over long distances takes time so produce is picked before the fruits or vegetables are ripe so that they don’t rot while in transport. Picking produce before they are ripe results in less time for nutrients to develop on the vine or tree resulting in lower nutritional value in the item. Related to long-distance transportation of produce, we need to address the fact that local farmers lose out when produce from distant places is purchased rather than from local farms.
The benefits of buying in-season produce are worth the wait. When you buy in season you are more likely to buy local which supports local farmers and the local economy. Also, by purchasing seasonal fruits and vegetables you are purchasing what was grown in that season, which means that you are rotating foods and less likely to get an overload of any one type of fruit or vegetable. Consuming the same foods too often can result in the development of food sensitivities, but that’s a topic for another day. Lastly, buying seasonal foods that are local allows the produce to be ripened before picking. This ensures that you are consuming fruits and vegetables with their peak nutritional content intact.
Buying seasonal foods brings variety to your diet, ensures you get a good rotation of foods, tends to support local farming efforts (which reduces road pollution and congestion) and means you are getting more nutrients in the produced consumed. For these reasons, it’s clear that buying seasonal foods is a win-win.