The demand for exotic fruits and vegetables from all around the world has increased gradually over the years. Supermarkets are expanding their collection of the same to attract more and more customers. Many fruits and vegetables which are not in season are also made available, much to the consumers delight.
It is good to try out a variety of fruits and vegetables, however, we must not forget to eat what is in season and available in our local markets. Eating local foods is eating seasonal. It means buying food, grown or made close to your home, or at least within your regional area. Fruits and vegetables are abundantly available at that time of the year that it is at its peak.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables available locally are usually purchased and consumed around the time that it is harvested. Seasonal produce come loaded with a lot of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and equips your body to deal with the excesses of the local weather that it is going to face.
Plants need the sun to grow and picking them before they are ripe, cuts off the nutrient availability. When fruits and vegetables that are picked for consumption have been naturally ripened on the vine or the tree and harvested at the right time, it will have much more flavour and nutrition.
A lot of factors influence the nutrient value of fruits and vegetables. The practices of people all along the line, from the seed to the table, influences the nutrient content, whether or not the produce is local or transported over long distances. More often than not, fruits and vegetables that are not grown locally, are often picked prematurely for the purpose of being transported over long distances. This can rob them of some of their nutritional benefits. Besides, longer the food sits, the more the decrease in its nutritional value.
To summarise the various benefits of eating seasonal foods available in your local market:
- Local farms can allow their fruits and vegetables to ripen longer or wait until they are fully ripened. This adds to its nutritional value.
- They are usually more fresh which adds to its flavour and taste.
- Preserving fruits and vegetables in its season is easier. Fewer chemicals are needed to fertilise it and less energy is used to create the temperature and surrounding environment it needs.
- You can be more informed from local farmers on the practises used to raise and harvest the crops. More the distance between you and your food source, the more the chances of contamination.
- Locally grown food can help support any possible digestion issues that people with food allergies may experience with other types of food.
- Helps local farmers protect their farmland. Without small scale farms, the land might otherwise be developed for industrial or commercial use.
- Local farmers cannot afford large transportation and distribution costs. Buying from them, helps them retain more profits and become more successful.
- Produce available during its season is more abundant and therefore available at a lower price in the store.
- The less your food travels, the lower its carbon footprint. Seasonal and local produce does not need to be flown from abroad or travel across the oceans from distant places or countries, to get to the store. Reducing food miles helps mitigate our dependence on fossil fuels, reduce air pollution and cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.
- You can play an important part in supporting your local economy, contributing to your community and protecting the environment.