Eating seasonally isn’t something that regularly comes to mind when I do my weekly grocery shopping. I’m usually limited on time, so I tend to head to stores where I can get everything I’d need in one stop with reasonable pricing. And although seasonal items appear more readily when they’re available, there is one thing for sure about the American grocery system – we’ll get what we want even if it has to travel thousands of miles.
There never seems to be a lack for the fruit and vegetable staples like bananas, apples, carrots and potatoes. We all know that different fruits and vegetables grow at different times of year, but I feel like most of us don’t take that into consideration when we put things in our shopping cart. Would that fruit seem just as appetizing if you watched it travel thousands of miles in the back of a truck to get to your store?
It turns out, there are a lot of benefits to eating what’s in season.
It’s a bit of a chain reaction. First and foremost – taste. A fresh strawberry grown a mile away will taste much better, and be more nutritious, than one shipped a thousand miles. Shipping them takes energy and power, and if we get rid of the need to send these foods across the country, emissions will decrease. By eating what’s growing in season, you’ll also be supporting local farmers. And of course, since everything is picked to be eaten immediately, foods won’t need the excess chemicals keeping them unnaturally fresh.
Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only seasonal foods. Even those that are aware of what’s growing in their areas around the year might not always consider their meats as seasonal. There are better times to eat certain meats based on the production flow of different times of the year. For example, chickens increase their egg laying in the spring, and in turn there are more chickens available for purchase in the summer. Cows thrive in the fall; after the frost kills off flies and sweetens the grass they begin to eat more to prepare for harsh weather – making winter the best time to buy beef. When there is a demand outside of these production times, it can become increasingly difficult for farmers to meet the needs of their customers…which usually leads to upping production through unnatural means.
I for one am going to start taking seasonal eating into consideration more often. Instead of fueling the need for farmers to provide high-demand foods during low production times, take advantage of the surplus of seasonal food. Your body, wallet, and the environment will thank you.
For more information:
Connect with your local food community – Local Harvest
Image credit to Golf Greengate Farms (top) and Margaret Short (bottom)