Benefits and importance of choosing seasonal foods

Seasonal foods are fresher, more nutritious, tastier and more respectful than those that have been produced outside of their ideal season. This is positive both individually and globally.

Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on November 08, 2021.

Last update: 08 November, 2021

Seasonal foods are those that are available in the market naturally for a certain period of time. This coincides with the biological cycle and, in general, usually refers to fruits, vegetables and fish.

However, eating according to what nature offers in each season is not the most common practice today. Just take a look at most stores and grocery carts to realize that we have the same foods at our fingertips every day of the year.

The problem is that we are not aware of the negative effects that this reality entails. Or seen in another way: we do not think about the benefits of eating seasonal foods.

Diet is a powerful tool to improve our health and that of the planet. Eating in season is one more step to achieve it. We find out more about what it is and its benefits below.

Seasonal foods and their seasons

Seasonal and proximity shopping takes care of your pocket.

Most of us know that beans are a summer product or that oranges arrive in winter. But do we know what spring fruits and vegetables are? Are the strawberries we buy in the fall greenhouse? Are you interested in knowing why tomatoes don’t taste as good as they did years ago?

The great availability of food at any time of the year has made it difficult for us to know which is the appropriate season for each of them. Although this changes depending on where we are, for reference These are the best times to consume some of the most common fruits and vegetables:

  • Autumn: it is the time for persimmons, figs, pomegranates, apples, grapes and the last melons and peaches. As for the vegetables, we have the last tomatoes and start the chard, squash, spinach, leeks, sweet potatoes or broccoli.
  • Winter: at this time, the presence of fruits is limited to avocados, lemons, oranges and kiwis. Vegetables of choice are chard, cabbage, endives, spinach or cauliflower.
  • Spring: avocados and oranges are gone. Strawberries, cherries, apricots and watermelons arrive at the end of the season. As for vegetables, it is the ideal time to eat artichokes, peas, asparagus, spinach or carrots.
  • Summer: in both fruits and vegetables the colors red, orange and purple arrive. Raspberries, strawberries, peaches, watermelons, pears, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, beets, cucumbers, green beans, or zucchini.

Reasons to choose seasonal foods

The food system puts significant pressure on the planet’s resources. This has to do with aspects as varied as production, transport, food waste or the waste that is generated.

For this reason, It is essential to consume food consciously and choose not only the healthiest but also the most sustainable and of better quality. The best of all is that with small daily gestures you can already contribute in a positive way.

Some of the reasons that may be behind the choice of seasonal foods are the reduction of pollution linked to transport and the production itself. Also the fact that the food is fresher and better preserves its original qualities

What’s more, if these are locally grown (which is desirable), it contributes to integrated rural development in the territory and a good link between the rural and urban areas nearby.

What benefits does it bring

Choosing seasonal foods contributes to our good health, in addition to benefiting the planet.

Seasonal foods are more nutritious

All fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients when they have been collected at the optimum point of maturity.

Out of its time, normal ripening cycles are broken and this affects its composition. Storage time and transportation also affect the nutrients that begin to be lost from the moment of harvest.

They are tastier

This is one of the characteristics that stands out the most since it can be perceived from the first bite. Food that is picked at the right time is fresh, sweeter and more aromatic than those that have matured artificially and have spent long periods in cold rooms.

Out of season and harvested in advance, food usually goes through cooling, storage and subsequent heating in the greenhouse to make it mature. All of these processes greatly reduce the taste and also alter the texture and juiciness of fruits and vegetables.

Affordable food

When they are in their moment, the food is more abundant and this affects its price, which is usually lower than purchased at a time that is not optimal.

Diet variety

Despite what it may seem at first, eating the foods that are due in each season provides the opportunity to have a more varied diet throughout the year. It can be a perfect occasion to discover unfamiliar foods and experiment with recipes that have not been tried before.

In addition, all that is gained in flavor and freshness will make some foods that may have been stopped eating more appreciated when noticing a loss of flavor and quality.

Environmental benefits of choosing foods in season

The combination of seasonality and proximity offers great advantages at an ecological and sustainability level. On the one hand, carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption derived from long-distance transport and the use of heating and artificial lighting to produce crops out of season are reduced.

On the other hand, it also helps to respect the natural production cycle and encourages the development of local commerce by generating wealth in the closest surroundings.

Eating seasonal foods: one more step towards a more sustainable and healthy diet

As we have detailed throughout the article, consuming seasonal foods is a very positive measure of eating habits. These are tastier, more nutritious, and affordable. In addition, they are more respectful with the environment.

It is true that the period of time to enjoy a particular food is shorter. But the season of some products can be extended by making homemade preserves both fruits and vegetables. In this way, they can be enjoyed for a longer period.

Now this important step It is complemented with other interesting actions that allow improving the quality of the diet and its impact on an ecological level.

Whenever possible it is positive to buy locally, from non-intensive cultivation, reduce the intake of food of animal origin or avoid food waste as much as possible.

All of them are small gestures that can contribute in a simple way to create a healthier and more sustainable world, and to live in harmony with nature and its life cycles.

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