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What Are the Benefits of Seasonal Eating?

by Sarasota Bay Club

While it's become easier to access a wide range of foods year-round, seasonal eating offers a range of benefits for our health and the environment. By consuming foods that are in season and grown locally, we can enjoy fresher, more nutritious produce and support local farmers. Plus, eating seasonally can reduce our carbon footprint by minimizing the distance our food travels from farm to plate. So what is seasonal eating?

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What is Seasonal Eating?

Seasonal eating means choosing to eat foods that grow or peak naturally around the time you eat them. Here in Florida, we have a long and prolific growing season, but you might be surprised to learn that even our staples do not all naturally reach maturity at the same time. Seasonal eating means choosing to buy what our local farms produce when they produce them.

5 Benefits of Seasonal Eating

1. You Can Enjoy A Variety Of Options

Choosing to indulge in seasonal produce gives you a chance to see and taste a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Produce that is allowed to grow to its natural peak in its natural season also tastes better, so not only do you get a variety of flavors, but you get to enjoy food at its very best. This works well with your body's need for a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that you would lack if you only eat the same types of fruits and vegetables all year round.

2. It’s More Nutritious

Many types of produce can be grown outside of its natural growing season. However, often the heartier varieties of these crops that can thrive in sub-standard or artificial environments are not as nutritious. Food that is grown in its natural season does not need the assistance of harmful additives or other modifications. This results in a better and more nutritious product.

3. Better For The Environment 

Food that is grown outside of its natural growing season often takes resources to reproduce the conditions that the correct season provides. Hot houses and other artificial growing environments require substantial energy. When you practice seasonal eating, you are working with the environment.

This is also true when you consider the greenhouse emissions that you are able to avoid wasting by buying food from your local Famers Market. According to the University of Maryland Medical System, a large share of the CO2 emissions responsible for climate change come from big cargo vehicles. Shopping locally avoids this waste.

4. Less Chemicals

Transportation through the country, or even from other countries, exposes your food to harmful contaminants. This can begin from the soil it is grown in, which in other, warmer countries may not be regulated to keep hazardous chemicals out. Even without the risk of your produce carrying contamination though, food that has to be transported long distances often has to be picked before it's fully ripe. Produce that is not fully ripe is less nutritious and less flavorful.

On the other hand, buying fresh produce from your local farmers market and choosing seasonal fruits and vegetables means less time in transit and more vital nutrients.

5. Better For You

Interestingly, the food that is in season often reflects the needs of our bodies. For example, winter crops like citrus provide our bodies with extra vitamin C, which can help ramp up our immune systems. Summer fruit, like melons and stone fruits, tend to have a higher water content, which can help with hydration in the heat. Produce that ripens in autumn can be warm and comforting, just when we need it the most.

Why Consider Seasonal Eating?

Seasonal eating promotes a varied diet and lets you enjoy the best of what each month has to offer. Supporting your local farmers also helps the environment by cutting down transportation, refrigeration, and other cost associated with our season growing. You might also be surprised how much better you feel accommodating your body's natural response to the seasons.

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