It’s easy to walk into a supermarket and find the same selection of fruits and vegetables all year long. Eating lots of colorful leafy greens, veggies, and fruits is good for us after all! So does it matter what season it is outside if there’s plenty to pick from inside the store? It actually can.
First things first – when you’re eating seasonally, produce doesn’t need to travel as far because it’s in season. For example: in order for that tomato to appear in your grocery cart in December, it has to be grown far away in a warmer climate. And in order to be ready for you to slice it up, it’s going to have to be picked long before it’s ripe so that it can make the trip without spoiling. Meanwhile, a tomato that’s in season can be grown nearby and picked just as it’s ripening.
Fruits and vegetables that are harvested when they’re ripe are at their peak nutritional value, and that’s a really good thing. This means of course that they contain more nutrients. A fruit or vegetable that’s picked early is not only going to be less nutritious, it’s also going to lose some of the nutritional value while it’s being transported. Less travel time means less nutrient loss!
In-season fruits and vegetables also happen to taste a lot better too! When harvested locally, they’re picked at a point where they’ve been able to ripen on the vine instead of in a transport crate. If they’re harvested too early, they’re refrigerated. While refrigeration is meant to help them stay fresh longer, it can also rob the fruits and vegetables of their flavor. In some cases, it can also change the texture, and not in a good way.
Another benefit of eating seasonally is reducing the amount of fuel needed to transport the food. Reduced transport requirements mean less pollution, and pollution has a huge impact on your health.
Not everyone can eat completely in season, and not every community has access to local farmer’s markets. More grocery stores are starting to feature local and regional produce though, and that’s a good step in a healthier direction!