Shopping in season: Is it worth the effort?
Updated: Oct 10, 2017
In short, yes. You've made the decision to adjust your diet to improve your health, fantastic. Among other resolutions, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables is no doubt right at the top of your list. Many people assume (quite incorrectly) that eating healthier is more expensive. As your shopping list expands to accommodate all this new found variety, so too will your grocery bill. The good news is, there are ways to keep this bill under control. You guessed it, shopping in season. There are in fact several very good reasons to be shopping according to the season, and we've listed a few of them below.
More Nutritional Value: After being harvested, fruit and vegetables continue to "breathe" despite being detached from the plant. This is called respiration. This process burns energy in order to keep the tissue alive. The longer this process continues, more energy (carbohydrates) is consumed, resulting in a loss of flavour, sweetness, water content and nutritional content. By using seasonal produce, the food has had less time to breathe and maintains a higher amount of nutrients.
Less Contamination: Food that is available at the supermarket that is currently not in season has to be transported from a location where it is in season. This means that you might be eating fruit and veg that was grown on the other side of the planet - and it has made a mighty long journey to reach you. Some countries have much less strict regulations on food production and use chemicals and pesticides that are in fact banned in Australia.
Eco-Friendly: Consider the environmental impact of transporting out of season vegetables across the globe. Buy local!
Price: It's good for your wallet! In season produce is cheaper as it is in abundance. Visit your local farmer's market, get to know the farmers & save yourself some coin.
Variety: You may think that you are restricting the fruit and vegetables available to you, however, you'll probably find yourself cooking with things you wouldn't usually buy. When a recipe calls for something that's not in season, you'll have to improvise and substitute something that is. Not only is this better for you, but your cooking skills will improve too!
Convinced? Excellent. The biggest challenge with shopping to the season, is knowing what is available and when. A good hint is to check the labels in the supermarket, anything that is imported, there's a pretty good chance it's not in season. For those who like to plan ahead, you can download this PDF created by ecofriendlyfood.org.au It's a handy guide to what's in season in South East Queensland. Print it out, join the two circles with a push pin, and you're sorted for the whole year round!