Over the last few weeks I’ve been enviously eyeing off the beautiful autumnal recipes that have been all over blogs from the northern hemisphere. I’ve been seriously lusting after hearty winter pumpkins, roasted fennel and swedes, that aren’t in season for us down under. However, taking a trip up the sunny coast this last weekend has got me remembering just why I love the fact that summer’s just around the corner!
Buying and eating your fruits and vegetables according to season is a big part of following a healthy and sustainable lifestyle and can also save you precious pennies.
It’s actually only a modern-day ‘convenience’ that we can buy produce out of season, without today’s technology and market globalization this wouldn’t be the case. While I can get my hands on fennel, beets and butternut squash any time of year, the taste and vibrancy of these vegetables during the warmer months just makes me realize that produce out-of-season is a little below par. The same goes for my beloved tropical fruits in winter – they’re just not the same.
If fruits and vegetables aren’t in season locally, they will have been shipped from another part of the globe (hello increased carbon footprint), almost certainly picked before maturity and ripened artificially. Increased storage time also means decreased nutritional value, which peaks when produce is freshly harvested and naturally ripened. So that we can enjoy ripe red tomatoes in the dead of winter, batches of tomatoes are often shipped halfway around the globe at refrigerated temperatures (tomatoes are best stored at room temperature), which also affects their flavour and texture when eventually consumed at the other end of their journey.
But will this mean limiting the variety of your diet? Not at all! Eating seasonally is a great way to actually increase and truly appreciate the wonderful variety of fresh fruit and vegetables that are available to us (plus it’s cheaper!). Break out of the rut of buying the same old fruit and veg year round and start trying the abundance of produce that is in season. This will start to give you a wonderful appreciation of seasonal foods and also give a sense of celebration as each new selection becomes available.
From a health standpoint, consider the fact that certain fruits and vegetables are naturally available for when we will especially require their specific vitamins and minerals. Think plenty of vitamin C and vegetables rich in antimicrobial properties in winter like garlic, ginger, sweet potatoes and navel oranges, and then water-rich hydrating melons, cucumbers and juicy mangoes in summer! Look at summer squash, which is naturally light and refreshing, compared to winter squash, which is rich, robust and satisfying. These wonderful natural cycles came about for a reason – to give us maximum nutritional value from our food.
This month, our pink grapefruit season is sadly coming to a close…
…very sad, yes, but that means that papayas are beginning to appear all over the place and will be around throughout summer – hooray!
What my Halloween menu lacked in pumpkin, it more than made up for in juicy orange papaya!