Eating seasonal fruit and vegetables was a predominant norm not a long time ago. Also, buying them in local markets. However, after the occurrence of the very first supermarket in United States in 1916, the concept of seasonality changed dramatically. Since then and until now, every type of fruit or vegetables became available all year around with some undesired consequences: tasteless products full of pesticides and devoid of essential nutrients. Moreover, the environment experiences extra stress due to the high level of contamination, the local agriculture businesses are destroyed and the population doesn’t go in the rhythm with the nature.
The supermarkets boom in Europe took place after the Second World War. From that moment, streets and avenues were inundated with thousands of supermarkets that forever buried the seasonality concept the way it was understood by our great grandparents. They ate just what was in season. Nevertheless, it would be unfair to blame just the supermarkets for wiping out the natural food production system. Fast mechanisation of agriculture methods, green houses and development of innumerable chemicals are also guilty for poor quality fruit and vegetables nowadays.
We will take British strawberries as an example to help us better understand why it is important to eat seasonal. British summer officially starts with the prime strawberry-picking season, from June to September. During these months the offer is ample, the price is decent and the taste is truly real. However, everyone can buy imported strawberries in every month of the year. Obviously, the out of season price is exorbitant due to the reduced offer and strawberries are totally tasteless. That is because imported strawberries are usually collected immature, almost green, in order to be preserved until their final destination. That way, they can travel thousand of kilometres in fridges before you put them in your mouth. The hasted picking prevents fruit from growing and absorbing the nutrients from the soil. As a result, consumers buy a poor quality product.
To receive best benefits from fruit and vegetables it is always better to eat seasonal for 6 simple reasons:
1. Taste, infinitely better. Growing slowly and in rhythm with the nature allows fruit and vegetables to acquire all needed nutrients from the soil. Therefore, the taste is immensely better.
2. More nutritious. When it is picked in the right moment, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants have had enough time to develop in the flesh of the fruit.
3. Less pesticides. Products won’t travel around the world before they reach your plate, so less pesticides will be spread on them. More kilometres, more pesticides to avoid rotting.
4. Support local farmers. Buying seasonal products will have a great and positive impact on the local economy. Money stays in the area and reinforces relationships with the neighbourhood.
5. Always much cheaper. When a fruit or vegetable is in a season, it’s abundant and, not surprisingly, it’s available at a lower price. It is supply and demand law. So, in a way seasonality help you increase your savings.
6. Protect the environment. Transportation of goods from one country to another will always have a massive carbon footprint. Especially if it comes from a different continent.
The climate in United Kingdom forces the country to import many products from all over the world. Not many fruit and vegetables can grow easily on this island. In this scenario, it would be better to consume goods from the European neighbours, rather than from other continents. Remember, if products come from far away they may have been picked weeks before they are mature. So, the chance to receive their benefits reduces proportionally with the distance where they have been grown.
As a final advice: make seasonal eating your norm for life, rather than a rule.