The Benefits of Eating Seasonally by Krista Mountford

From the Baw Baw Sustainability Network Newsletter

If our parents or grandparents were to cast their mind back to what fresh food they ate, they would never have experienced eating a bright red tomato in winter or broccoli in summer. This quite modern phenomenon has only existed for the last 50-100 years due to the ability for food to be transported from all over the country or world with ease.

Eating seasonally offers immense benefits including greater nutrient density, far superior flavour and freshness, and from a sustainability perspective, a much lower carbon footprint. If you’ve ever tasted produce from a farmer’s market you will know what we’re talking about!

Seasonal produce spends less time in cold storage as it usually comes straight from the farmer to the market. Less pesticides are usually used as it’s grown at the correct time of year and in the right conditions, and less food miles occur as the produce is usually grown locally.

Produce that is flown or trucked in from other parts of the country or world, are often picked when they’re underripe, so that it will last the trip and won’t bruise during transport. This effects the taste and quality of the fruit or vegetable as it hasn’t been given the chance to ripen naturally or fully develop its flavour. Vitamins can also break down over time, so produce that has sat in cold storage for weeks or sometimes months, will lose nutrients.

So, it’s now currently Winter in Gippsland, Victoria, what should we be eating? This time of year is usually reserved for brassicas, alliums and umbellifers.

BRASSICAS: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale and radish

ALLIUMS: Leeks, onions, garlic and shallots

UMBELLIFERS: Parsley, fennel, celery, carrots and coriander

And what about fruit you ask? Well, it’s not the time for watermelon or pineapple (although thanks to transport you have access to these any time of year). Winter is all about citrus, so think oranges, lemons and mandarins. This makes a lot of sense as these fruits are full of Vitamin C, perfect to keep the winter cold and flu bugs at bay!

The vegetables above are also able to play a seasonal recipe role, as they’re perfect for warming soups and casseroles, and garlic is a huge immune booster. Although eating seasonally may limit the variety of vegetables and fruit you consume, there are still many recipes you can create!… So, head down to your local Farmer’s Market or grocer and get cooking! Your body and the planet will thank you for it!