5 benefits of eating "seasonally"
We've all heard about the importance of eating local, seasonal, organic food, but what does that really mean? How do the actual benefits differ from those we think we know? I've been doing my own homework as well as sitting down with my friend and nutrition guru, Tara Coleman, and have compiled these 5 points on some other ways eating seasonally can benefit us and the world around us!
- It's great for your body. Coleman tells us, "When a food is first harvested, it is the healthiest it's going to be. It is chock full of vitamins, minerals, etc. As time goes by these nutrients start to break down. This means the further something has to travel, the more likely it is that the nutrients have begun to break down. So produce that traveled from China will not be as nutritious as produce that was grown in your town." Another less obvious little tidbit Tara points out is that "food that is in season typically contains the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need in that time of year. For instance, citrus is coming into season and it is chock full of vitamin C and other immune boosting nutrients, which coincides perfectly with cold & flu season." It's amazing how our bodies are equipped to work with Mother Nature, isn't it?
- It supports local farmers. While it is nearly impossible to eat locally sourced food 100% of the time, and even more difficult to grow it in your own backyard year round, we can still support a good cause- our local farmers. While your average farmer makes about $0.20 on the dollar for their crops when we buy them at the grocery store, eating locally and seasonally gives your local farmer at the market that full dollar; they are able to avoid the cost of transportation, processing, packaging, refrigeration and marketing. Get to know your farmers at the local farmers market and support a good cause. It's amazing how much better this food tastes than something covered in wax to keep its' freshness.
- It's less harmful to our environment. "The environmental aspect is huge, as less environmental damage is done when we don't have to transport produce across the country and the world." Eating locally grown foods reduces fuel emissions, therefore significantly reducing our carbon footprint. Rich Pirog of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture reports that the "average "fresh" food item on our dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there. Buying locally produced food eliminates the need for all that fuel-guzzling transportation."
- It broadens the range of your palate. This one is pretty simple! Try out new recipes with foods you may have just been introduced to. This can be a fun way to explore new foods and introduce new flavors to your family's tastebuds. And I know my kids will try anything if they have a hand in making it! Here is a nice way to find out what is in season where you live.
- It increases the size of your wallet! If you look around your grocery store and notice that strawberries have doubled in price in the winter, there is a reason! It's not coming from anywhere nearby. So ALL of these 5 points should guide you to what is plentiful in your produce aisle. That means if it is growing near you and is abundant, it will cost less. Go to the organic frozen section during these winter months and add these fruits in your smoothie if you want your berry fix!
So while this may seem like a trendy, foodie movement, the benefits are tangible! Try it out this Fall and Winter. You might be surprised and have some fun in the process! Head over to Tara's website for more great nutrition tips!