In a world where we can enjoy strawberries in December and pumpkins in May, there are plenty of reasons why we should reconsider it. Eating seasonal offers a range of benefits, from better health to a lighter ecological footprint and even a happier wallet.
The health benefits of eating seasonal
When you choose to eat what's in season, you're not only indulging your taste buds, but you're also giving your body a healthful gift. Here are some of the key health benefits:
1. Nutrient Density: Seasonal fruits and vegetables are harvested at their peak, offering maximum nutritional value. For example, British strawberries in summer are bursting with antioxidants and vitamin C, while Brussels sprouts in winter are rich in vitamin K and fibre.
2. Freshness: Seasonal produce is often picked closer to your plate, reducing the time between harvest and consumption. This means fresher, more flavourful ingredients that haven't lost their nutritional potency during long journeys.
3. Diverse Diet: Eating seasonally encourages a diverse diet, with a wide range of fruits and vegetables rotating through the year. This diversity is essential for a balanced intake of nutrients.
Eating seasonal in the UK also has significant environmental advantages:
1. Reduced Food Miles: When you consume locally grown, seasonal produce, you're supporting nearby farmers and reducing the carbon footprint of your food. The transportation of out-of-season items from far-flung destinations contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Less Energy Consumption: Seasonal crops grow more naturally and require fewer resources like artificial lighting and heating, leading to reduced energy consumption. This minimises the environmental impact of food production.
Eating seasonal can be a blessing for your finances too:
1. Lower Costs: In-season produce is usually more abundant and, therefore, less expensive. As the supply increases, prices often decrease, allowing you to enjoy fresh, high-quality food without breaking the bank.
2. Less Food Waste: With seasonal eating, you're less likely to overstock on items that are out of season, ultimately leading to less food waste. Wasting less means saving more.
Stats to chew on
1. Food Miles: On average, food in the UK travels around 1,837 miles to reach your plate1 (which is further than a flight to Greenland!). By choosing seasonal, locally grown produce, you can significantly reduce this figure, helping to curb emissions and support local agriculture.
2. Food Waste: According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the UK throws away around 9.5 million tonnes of food each year2. Eating seasonal can help combat this staggering issue by encouraging better portion control and reducing the disposal of out-of-season items.
3. Improving Education: While 70% of Brits want to eat more seasonal produce each year, over 47% admitted that they don't know when produce is in season both in the UK and abroad3. Utilise the British Dietetic Association’s easy-to-understand guide to find out what fruit and veg is in season!
Tips for eating seasonal in the UK
Ready to embrace the seasons with your plate? Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Shop at Farmers' Markets: Farmers' markets are treasure troves of seasonal, local produce. They're also fantastic places to chat with growers and learn about what's in season.
2. Grow Your Own: If you have space, consider starting a small vegetable or herb garden. You'll enjoy the pleasure of harvesting your own seasonal produce.
3. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Scheme: Many CSAs across the UK offer seasonal boxes of fresh produce directly from local farms. By subscribing, you can receive a regular supply of what's in season.
4. Preserve the Bounty: To enjoy seasonal flavours year-round, try preserving, canning, or freezing seasonal produce when it's at its best.
There you have it! The benefits of eating seasonal are undeniable: from nourishing your body with nutrient-packed produce to lightening your carbon footprint, saving money, and supporting local agriculture. So, the next time you bite into a juicy British apple in autumn or savour a fresh summer salad, remember: you’re contributing to a more sustainable future!