As a society, we are becoming more aware of the environmental cost of our food choices. Much of our food is now grown or raised in one country, processed and packaged in another, before being flown to the UK to be sold. This is not good for us or for the planet. If you want to save money, the environment and get the most from your food, you need to eat what’s in season.
Eating fruits and vegetables which are grown locally and in season is particularly important. The problem is that many nutrients start to break down as soon as the fruit or vegetable is picked. Fresh produce may have travelled for a week to get to the store, then sat on the shelf for several days, before being in your fridge for a while longer. By the time you eat it, it may have half the vitamins it started with. However, if you choose foods that don’t have as far to travel, their nutrient content is much higher.
Although people in the UK like to complain about the weather, it actually ensures there are fresh, locally grown vegetables available year-round. The abundant rain and mild temperatures (it rarely freezes in winter) make this a “green and pleasant land”. In other words, good growing conditions. Even now, in January, you can get British grown apples and pears, root vegetables like carrots, beetroot, and turnips, greens like cabbage and kale, and winter squashes. In fact, you can get a whole rainbow of different coloured, British grown produce! You can find out what’s in season in the UK by checking out the Vegetarian Society’s website.
Another reason to eat seasonally is variety. Eating seasonally means apples and Brussel sprouts in January, strawberries and cucumber in June – not year-round. People who eat a wide variety of foods have the healthiest, most diverse bacteria in their gut. More and more research is showing the connection between gut bacteria and a host of diseases, from obesity to depression1. By eating different fresh foods, you encourage different strains of beneficial bacteria to thrive.
Foods which are in season are also much cheaper. Anyone who has bought fresh strawberries in January and June will have noticed the price difference! Again, the shorter the distance the food has to travel to get to you, the less fuel and resources it takes. There is also a supply and demand effect – strawberries are plentiful in June, so the price drops. Buy choosing local, in season produce, you can really cut your food bill. If you do fancy an out of season strawberry, buy frozen. As discussed in a previous post, most have been frozen within a couple of hours of being picked, locking in all the vitamins and minerals – and keeping the cost down.
Eat what’s in season and you can do something good for your health, good for your wallet, and good for the planet!
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