We are, undeniably, connected to nature. Since the beginning of time, we have relied on nature to provide us with the air we breathe. We need water for our survival. Our circadian rhythms are linked to the rhythm and cycle of our planet and its seasons. When we eat seasonally, we have access to foods that are naturally grown at the time we’re eating them. While we now have access to most foods all year round, experts make an argument for the benefits of eating food seasonally.
Research tells us that the nutritional value of specific foods can change, depending on the seasons they are grown or produced. For example, one UK study conducted by the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food looked at the nutrient value of milk at different times of the year. The nutrient content of milk can differ depending on when it was produced. The reason for this? The cows’ diet can affect the quality of the milk produced. In summer, for example, cows were less likely to consume fresh produce and this would impact on the nutritional quality of the milk.
The modern day dilemma
Specific fruits and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides to extend their shelf life. Preservatives are used for the same reason. Other additives, such as wax, are used to improve the appearance of produce.
Today, we are increasingly aware of the negative impact of insecticides and artificial ingredients and preservatives on our health. Some of our food can be months’ old by the time it reaches our table. In modern cities, the time to transport food from the orchard to the supermarket shelf can be extensive. Some of our products are picked long before they are meant to. This means they may no longer be as nutrient-rich as we would like to think. One US based study from the University of California, found that vegetables such as green beans and spinach can lose up to two-thirds of their nutrients within a week of being picked.
Eating seasonally means you are eating fresher, more nutritionally-rich foods. Additionally, it encourages us to eat a variety of foods throughout the year.
Guide to Seasonal fruits and vegetables
Apples, beans, berries, broccoli, cabbage, figs, kiwi-fruit, pears, pecans, persimmons, pomegranate, Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, radishes, spinach and sweet potato.
Apples, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, grapefruit, horseradish, mandarins, oranges, pears.
Asparagus, broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cherries, cucumbers, leeks, lemons, mandarins, peas, peaches, plums, spinach, silverbeet and strawberries.
Apricots, asparagus, beetroot, all types of berries, cabbage, capsicum, cherries, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, mango, nectarines, okra, peaches, pineapple, rockmelon, tomatoes, watermelon and zucchini.