How environmentally conscious do you consider yourself to be? It seems that these days, we’re all trying to do our bit and it comes hand-in-hand with buying local, too. Perhaps social media is helping us become a bit more socially conscious of what’s available in our area and the impact it has on our world.
Particularly in current times, many of us are aiming to lead a simpler lifestyle: cultivating our own fruit and veg or limiting our car journeys for unnecessary sundries etc. By returning to basics and eating seasonally, we can influence enormously positive changes to our health and wellbeing, and occasionally to our wallets, too!
‘Eating seasonally’ as a term is being thrown around a lot more now that the novelty of Quik Gel and Angel Delight fix-it puddings of the 1970s are less in favour, but what does it actually mean? It’s easy. All eating seasonally means is to include foods in your diet that are harvested at the same time of the year as you eat them. For example, raspberries in the summer, pumpkins in the autumn and so on.
Before we wax lyrical on the benefits of seasonal eating, it’s all about moderation. Long term, it’s great to make daily conscious decisions that make a positive impact, but if you really fancy strawberries and cream in February, you’ll hear no argument from us!
Most Brits are raised in non-rural areas, so few of us have an awareness of when and where various foods are produced. Variety is great but it can be colossally destructive. Globalisation is a wonderful thing in some ways – rigorous importing processes from all over the world all year round leave supermarket shelves looking the same week in week out.
If we don’t rely on our own communities to feed us, we can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Why on Earth would we want to change that? It sounds fantastic! Well, that banana may well have travelled thousands of miles so you can enjoy a banana butty in December, and the impact on our environment is devastating.
If we want to become more engaged with communities, heritage and culture (not necessarily our own), then eating foods when nature intended is a wonderful way to do that.
Purchasing fresh food out of season costs a premium, because as a society, it seems we’re content to pay for the convenience of eating what we like, when we like. When a food isn’t readily available out of season, we have to pay for its air fare.
When you next do a food shop, you can see this for yourself: have a look at what’s in season and how much it costs. Cucumbers are a great example of this because they’re ten-a-penny during the summer but as the cold snaps strike, the price doth hike!
Food is grown year-round all over the world to meet demand in synthetic growing environments. When crops are grown in non-native countries, there is enormous fuel consumption and associated CO2 emissions when the crops travel to our shops via planes, trains and automobiles.
Eating seasonally is wonderful for our immune systems and general sense of wellbeing. During the winter, we are provided with hardy winter vegetables for warm wholesome foods such as soups and casseroles. Come the summer, fruits provide us with extra beta-carotenes and other carotenoids that help to protect us against sun damage.
In order to feel compassion for the planet and make better choices on its behalf (we are, after all, its custodians), we would argue that we have a responsibility to reconnect with the natural cycles of the planet. Rather than mourn the passing of time, get excited for the next bountiful harvest because of the fabulous foods we’ll soon enjoy?
Simply put, food harvested and consumed when our Earth meant for it to be, it tastes better. Apples and pears are much tastier right now than they are in early spring, and strawberries are already less flavourful than they are in the height of summer.
Eaten in season food is tastier, naturally ripened and crammed with the best vitamins and minerals for that time of year. If you shop local, you’re more likely to be getting produce picked at the peak of its ripeness as it doesn’t have to travel as far!
When buying locally and according to the seasons, you’ll support your local economy and everyone wins. We can all gripe about the additional cost, but it’s up to you to decide if it’s a worthy expense. If you buy food more mindfully, you may find that you make the most of your ingredients though, so you could even end up making a saving!
In order to know what is typically harvested in Britain, and during which periods, BBC Good Food has this excellent resource . You’ll find that when you eat more seasonal foods everything automatically tastes fresher and more vibrant! Why not start by incorporating a seasonal food item in your dinner tonight?
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