What to Know About Seasonal Eating

Seasonal eating is a sustainable way of changing your diet that has health advantages. This lifestyle encourages you to only eat fruits and vegetables that are in season for your geographic area, like eating pears in the fall, oranges in the winter, asparagus in the spring, tomatoes in the summer, and so on.

Before science played a part in agriculture, you could only find fresh produce during the season it grew best in since produce relied on weather and other natural growing conditions. Now, you can find pretty much any fruit or vegetable you want regardless of the time of year.

What Is Seasonal Eating?

Seasonal eating encourages you to focus on in-season fruits and vegetables. This lifestyle can include eating certain fish or meat during specific parts of the year, but the focus of the diet is on fruits and vegetables because their growth depends on season-specific weather. “In-season” can mean different things for different regions and countries, but a quick Internet search can tell you what products are in season where you are.

Eating seasonally helps promote nutritious meals and supports a healthy environment. For example, strawberries grown in the summer time -- their natural season -- are more nutritious and flavorful than strawberries grown in the winter time.

Growing and consuming crops seasonally not only guarantees a flavorful product, but it allows the environment to cycle through its natural resources and seasons like it would without human intervention.

Keep in mind that if you live in a place where seasonal fruits and vegetables are hard to come by, like an isolated area, it can be difficult to eat seasonally. More important than eating seasonally is making sure you get the nourishment you need. Do your best to support this sustainable lifestyle, but always put your health first.

Health Benefits of Seasonal Eating

Instead of eating the same small group of fruits and vegetables year-round, seasonal eating encourages a varied diet. Branching out from your favorite kinds of fresh produce will give you important vitamins and minerals that you might not usually get.

Additionally, the quality and freshness of in-season produce are better than out-of-season produce. Because demand for certain crops is high year-round, they are modified to grow in bulk and to resist disease, but these modifications take away some of their nutritious benefits. When fruits and vegetables are grown during their natural timeframe, they will grow and thrive without any harmful additives.

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Environmental Benefits of Seasonal Eating

Growing food outside of their natural season only works when humans artificially create seasonal weather conditions. The fossil fuels (nonrenewable energy) and large amounts of water needed to do this have a negative impact on the environment.

Growing crops seasonally doesn’t require these resources. For example, compare recreating summer heat during the winter to grow summer crops instead of using only the heat from the sun. Seasonal growing requires much less energy.

Sticking to the earth’s seasonal growing routine also helps create sustainable eating patterns. Sustainable eating and seasonal eating go hand in hand: they both rely more on natural resources and less on artificial sources to provide food. Reducing food waste and encouraging long-term food planning are other goals of sustainable eating.

How to Get Started

Lifestyle changes like this can be intimidating, but if you’re interested in seasonal eating there are simple steps you can take to begin your journey:

  • Research what fruits and vegetables are in season for your area.
  • Summer crops are popular and commonly eaten, so focus on cool-weather produce that you don’t typically eat.
  • Preserve in-season fruits and vegetables for later on. You can freeze, dehydrate, pickle, can, etc. in-season produce to use during its off-season.

Seasonal eating is simple, healthy, and good for the environment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Seasonality of food groups and total energy intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”

Rutgers: “Eating Seasonally.”

The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society: “Seasonality and dietary requirements: will eating seasonal food contribute to health and environmental sustainability?”

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