There are many benefits of eating local and seasonal food for you and for our planet. And by the way, when you eat local food you always eat “in season”. Let’s take a closer look at benefits of eating local and seasonal food.
More nutrients and flavor
When produce has to endure long shipping we typically harvest it long before its prime time. Locally grown fruits and vegetables ripen on the vine and plants. One of the benefits of eating local foods is that we harvest them at the pick of their nutrition and flavor. For example, vitamin C content is much higher in produce ripened on the vine compared to produce picked before ripening. Local farmer’s markets can sell produce within a day or two of harvest. In addition, when you eat local food that’s been harvested recently, the vitamins and phytonutrients are all still there. The longer vegetables and fruits sit around, the more vitamin loss occurs and quality deteriorates.
Less Post-harvest Treatments
Chemicals may be applied to maintain freshness and endure shipping. Locally grown fruits and vegetables don’t have to be treated. I always encourage my clients to find a farmer’s market near them. You can learn about the harvesting methods and handling procedures of your food from your farmer. Do they rinse the greens in chlorinated water? Or maybe they apply a solution to potatoes, onions and garlic so that they don’t sprout. Do they wax the apples?
Buying locally will also reduce your carbon footprint. On average, most food travels over 1,500 miles before it reaches our plates. To travel these “food miles” we burn a lot of fossil fuel and pollute the environment. Not to mention, the retail price that we pay includes the transportation costs.
Eating seasonal foods not only ensures we get the most nutritious foods – it also brings variety to your diet. For example, instead of eating apples all year around, you might choose to eat strawberries at the end of spring, peaches and apricots in the summer, watermelons and melons in the early fall and persimmons and pomegranates in the winter.
Cycles of nature
Even if you try you cannot escape Mother Nature. The days get shorter in the fall/winter season, it gets cold and we tend to spend more time inside. Plants are in tune with Nature’s seasons. Foods have different “energetics” and help us connect with seasonal cycles of nature and provide us nourishment we need at a particular time of the year. For example, root vegetables (sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, potatoes) ripen in late summer and early fall. They are rich in complex carbohydrates and extremely nourishing. When we eat root vegetables our bodies prepare for the long cold winter by storing a bit of subcutaneous fat for insulation. By contrast, in early spring it’s the green leafy vegetables like lettuce that sprout first. These bitter vegetables stimulate our digestive and liver function encouraging detox after winter’s heavy eating and lack of movement.
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