Why eating locally & seasonally is better for your health
The array of fresh produce available year-round at the brightly lit supermarket can trick us into forgetting that certain crops or fruits and vegetables grow better at certain times of the year. We can still buy berries well into autumn, watermelon in winter, and broccoli in summer. But just because we can, should we? Sticking to a diet that consists predominantly of fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and are in season at the time of purchase has many benefits beyond enhanced flavour and a cheaper price. Here are some reasons why you should shop local & seasonal foods:
It’s better for your health
Local can range from your own backyard, to your region, or state. In effect, food travels less distance to get to you, meaning at the time of purchase it’s likely to be fresher and higher in valuable vitamins and phytonutrients (nutrients specific to plants). Phytonutrients play a key role in the promotion of health and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. The same freshness is true when eating seasonally. Seasonal eating recognises that different crops thrive at different times of the year. Strawberries purchased at the height of summer are juicier and far more flavourful than those that we can buy late autumn. A quick look at the packaging will reveal that summer strawberries are generally travelling from nearby regions, whereas strawberries purchased in the cooler months are likely to have travelled from interstate or an overseas location with a warmer climate. As an added bonus, you might find that eating seasonally forces you to step outside your comfort zone and try some new vegetables or fruits that you’d usually skip.
It saves you money
When fresh food doesn’t have to travel far, it costs distributors less to stock it, and those costs are generally reflected at the checkout. In addition, the ease of growing fruits and vegetables at their peak season means that a good supply of produce also drives down prices, as there is more to sell before it passes its best. This cost saving is even truer when the food only has to travel from your own veggie patch, into the kitchen! Growing your own produce is a great way to maximise the freshness and vitality of the foods you consume. It is also a way you can better control your exposure to some pesticides and other chemicals used in commercial farming practices.
It supports your local community
When you purchase locally grown produce from farmers markets, farm gates or local growers, you put money straight back into the local economy. Supporting these growers means they can continue to provide the community with high quality, locally-grown produce at a fair cost. So next time you’re dazzled by the bright lights of the local supermarket reflecting on the shiny red strawberries when it’s cold and dark outside at 5pm, perhaps reach for a beautiful navel orange instead. Your body, your hip pocket, and your local farmers will thank you. Check out the following websites for more information on what’s in season, when; and also for a list of the fabulous farmers markets happening around Victoria every week.
If you or someone you know is looking for personalised support with a naturopathic and functional medicine approach, book an appointment with Naturopath Laura here, or call the clinic on 03 5977 0177.
This article is intended to be informational only and represents the opinion of the author. It is not intended to be used as medical advice and does not take the place of advice from a qualified health care practitioner in a clinical setting. Please check with your healthcare practitioner before embarking upon any of the treatments discussed.