Wining & Dining
Benefits of Seasonal Eating
1/31/2018 10:31:47 PM
Seasonal Eating

Most of us eat food in season without even realizing it. In summer, when we need more hydration, we naturally crave juicy watermelons, peaches, tomatoes, and other foods high in water content. In winter, our palates turn to heartier fare such as apples, pears, and squashes. But if we are more intentional about eating seasonal foods, we discover even more benefits.

Better flavor and quality – Food in season is often grown closer to home. Less time traveling means the food is fresher with less spoilage.

More nutritious – Even though fresh produce is no longer physically on the plant, it is still alive and continues to "breathe.” This process, called respiration, breaks down stored organic materials, such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and leads to loss of food value, flavor, and nutrients. Produce will lose heat from this respiration as well as moisture, which is another way nutrients are lost. Warm, dry air can speed this process considerably, so keeping produce cool and moist is beneficial in most cases. Ripeness and the timing of harvest affect the nutrition value of produce. For example, vitamin C level is highest when a tomato is picked ripe from the vine. Enzymes in action also decrease the nutrition of a fruit or vegetable. When you cut open an apple or banana, the browning is a sign of enzymatic activity and a loss of nutrients.

Diversifies our diet – Eating foods in season can increase the variety of foods you eat. This broadens your culinary palate and exposes you to dishes and ingredients you may not have otherwise explored.

It’s economical – When you buy produce in season, you buy food that’s at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and transport to your grocery store.

Environmentally friendly – Food is naturally "greener” when it doesn’t travel halfway across the country or even the world before it arrives on your plate.

Can foster a better sense of community – Buy local, and you’ll have a better chance at getting foods that are seasonal, fresh, and support local farmers and businesses in your community. Get to know the vendors at farmers’ markets. Ask them questions about their products, like when were they harvested and how to cook them. Join a local food co-op or a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project (or other fresh food delivery service.) Many of those farms and businesses also offer organic or sustainable options if you’re looking for them.
Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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