Many may wonder if it’s really important to buy what’s in season. To this, we say: Yes! Here are the top 5 reasons why we believe it is important to buy foods that are in season.
When fruits and vegetables are in season, they have more nutrients. This is because when they’re in season, it means that they were grown recently. The shorter the time between being picked and being eaten, the more nutrients produce is likely to retain. According to Harvard Files, another factor that contributes to nutrient retention is careful handling. Careful handling “preserves plant integrity and quality and careless handling chemically alters plant structures, often diminishing nutritional quality.” Some examples of careful handling include chilling produce immediately after harvest and preventing bruising. When buying what’s in season locally, local farmers have fewer crops so they are much more likely to get produce chilled immediately, whereas larger farms are less likely to be able to do this. This is because there are more crops to be harvested and thus more time spent harvesting and more time that already harvested produce has to wait before it can be chilled. In addition, when buying what’s in season locally, there are fewer people who handle the produce than when buying from out of state, or having the out-of-season produce shipped. The shipping of out-of-season produce is another cause for concern because there’s no assurance of careful handling. A final reason is that in-season, locally grown produce is typically not harvested with industrial machinery. When transportation, harvesting, processing, and handling are minimized there are fewer opportunities for the produce to be damaged which allows it to retain its flavor and nutritional content.
Produce that is in season tastes better. This point goes along seamlessly with the Nutrients point. As stated earlier, sugars can turn into starches after produce has been sitting for a long period of time. The sugars are what make the produce taste good. When the sugars turn into starches, the produce loses that flavor. And it doesn’t take long for produce to lose its flavor. According to Organic Consumers, food usually travels 1500 – 2000 miles before getting to your grocery store, which means a travel time of at least a week if not more. Within that amount of time, produce will lose most of its freshness and flavor before it even arrives to its destination.
Produce that is in season is grown locally. That means that the produce does not have to sit for weeks at a time before getting to its destination, thus it retains its sugars and its flavor.
When fruits and vegetables are in season, they grow easily and fruitfully. Because of this, Farmers typically end up with a surplus of in-season produce. With a surplus, farmers are able to sell the produce at a lower price. Although the price may be lower, the farmers will receive the same amount of profit because (s)he is selling a multitude of them. In addition, consumers are able to buy more produce for less. This is opposed to when foods are out of season. When foods are out of season, they are considered more “rare” to have. Because of this, shopkeepers will raise the price. In addition, the cost of shipping, storage and the amount of persons who have to handle the produce all need to be accounted for in the cost, which can also make the price higher.
4. Organic/Environmentally Safe
When fruits and vegetables are in season, that means that the ground and the climate are naturally suited to grow the items. This allows for fruits and vegetables to grow easily. When fruits and vegetables are not in season, in order to get them to grow, people spray them with unorganic pesticides. These can cause health risks to consumers.
5. Local Economy
By buying produce what’s in season, you’re supporting your local economy. Only produce that is in season in your climate and your area is ready to be eaten, so by buying only produce that’s in season, you’re guaranteeing that the money is going back into your local economy. Another way to ensure that your money is going back into your local economy is by buying straight from the farmers themselves. Going to Farmer’s Markets provides you with all food that has the best nutrients, flavor, lowest cost, most ethically grown, and you’ll be supporting your local economy.
Featured image from: Sustainable Path