These days everybody is preaching some kind of philosophy when it comes to eating. Eat locally, eat only organic food, eat seasonally — it can get kind of confusing.
The light bulb went on for me, with regard to seasonal eating, the first time I realized just how much more flavorful a tomato is during Summer than any other time of year. The difference was so staggering that I started to incorporate seasonality into my cooking. And the benefits actually extend beyond your taste buds: not only is eating within the current season more delicious, but it's easier on your wallet, better for the environment, and healthier. Want to learn more about eating seasonally? Read on.
When produce is grown in its proper season, under the appropriate growing conditions, it exhibits all of its natural nutrients. Studies have shown that some crops can have up to three times more nutrients when grown in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables don't have to endure as much travel, so they don't lose those vital nutrients.
It's more cost-effective.
It's simple, really. Food is easier to grow in its proper season, making it more abundant, less time-intensive, and more affordable for consumers. Often there will be specials on seasonal produce, because there is simply too much of it, and it needs to be used up!
You'll enjoy a greater variety of ingredients.
As soon as I tasted that Summer tomato, I vowed never to suffer through those watery, mealy, out-of-season tomatoes again. The result has been an increased variety of fruits and vegetables in my diet. You'll have to expand your culinary repertoire to include whatever is abundant during the current season and you'll most likely be pleasantly surprised with the results. You may find that you actually love a certain vegetable that you never would have tried before, and you'll learn to appreciate each ingredient even more. Trust me, one of the happiest times of the year for me is when those beautiful, juicy tomatoes are ripe and ready in July.
It's better for the environment.
With Earth Month just days away, this couldn't be more relevant. Seasonal vegetables don't have to travel as far to reach their destinations, reducing the amount of fuel needed to transport them. What's more is that those out-of-season ingredients often undergo chemical washes and wax coatings in order to keep during the long journey. Seasonal eating greatly reduces the need for these practices, while reducing your carbon footprint.
It's more delicious!
A reduced carbon footprint, health benefits, and cost reduction are all great reasons to eat seasonally. But let's face it, at the end of the day, we all just want to eat delicious food. The good news is that food grown in season is significantly more delicious than food grown out of season. The flavors are stronger and more developed, the textures are as they were meant to be, and you end up appreciating them more. And don't think for one minute that you can't get the flavors of Summer during the cold Winter months! This is where the art of canning and preserving comes in handy. Invest in a flat of those perfect Spring strawberries and turn them into jam that you can enjoy for months to come. Tomatoes can be canned, and cucumbers can be pickled, and your favorite flavors can be eaten at their peak all year long.
What's your favorite season to eat in?