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You’ve likely noticed the trend: health professionals and culinary gurus alike say you should aim to eat “seasonally”, which basically means including foods in your diet that are grown at the same time of the year you consume them. 

At first glance, this advice may seem easy to follow, but when it comes to actually filling your shopping basket, things can get a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear where a particular item comes from. Moreover, buying what’s in season requires knowing  what’s in season, which means doing some extra research and studying seasonal produce guide. Before making time for all these efforts, it really helps to know why exactly “seasonal eating” is all that important!

Turns out, eating seasonally is much more than just a trendy food movement, as it carries amazing benefits to your health, your wallet – and the entire planet! Today, we’ll review some of those benefits, hopefully inspiring you to start eating foods that are available at their peak! 

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So here is why eating seasonal produce is a great idea: 

1.    Your seasonal needs covered. 

The nature is very supportive of our seasonal needs, and living in tune with it can often make us healthier! 

Have you ever noticed that seasonal produce often provides just what we need during that season? For instance, proper hydration is very important during hot summer days – and conveniently, watermelons, full of delicious fluid, vitamins and electrolytes, are in season. 

Another example: over winter, when colds and flus are waiting in every corner, an extra immunity boost is always greatly appreciated. Luckily, oranges and mandarines, which are in season, contain high concentrations of vitamin C – a natural immunity aid and cold symptoms’ buster. 

 

2.    Seasonal produce is delicious.

It makes perfect sense that in-season fruit and veg are perfectly ripe and fresh, which means they inevitably taste better compared to imported or artificially grown plants! This is because when harvested at the right time, fruit and vegetables are naturally full of flavour and nutrition. 

On the contrary, transported crops must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t spoil during the lengthy transportation process. Sometimes when they reach destination, they are heated, which boosts artificial ripening. These temperature changes result in flavour reduction, as well as change in texture. Bland tomatoes, non-crispy apples and mushy pineapples are all perfect examples of that…

 

3.    Reduced shopping costs. 

When you choose to buy what’s in season, you end up purchasing food that’s at the peak of its supply. Consequently, it costs much less to harvest and distribute to grocery stores. 

If you opt to buy something out of season, chances are you’ll be covering extra travel expenses, storage fees and other additional burdens, which will push the price way up.

Surprisingly, this amazing tangible benefit of seasonal shopping gets ignored way too often!

 

4.    Higher nutritional value

Seasonal produce is likely to be fresher and consumed considerably closer to harvesting. This is particularly important when considering nutritional value, as certain substances such as vitamin C and carotenes tend to rapidly decline if stored for prolonged periods of time. In addition, supermarkets tend to buy out-of-season produce treated with gassed, irradiation and waxing to extent the shelf life. Doesn’t sound ideal? Opt to buy seasonal foods!

 

5.    You get a wider variety of foods throughout the year

If you don’t adjust your shopping list to match seasonal patterns, chances are you end up eating pretty much the same selection of foods week after week. Break the cycle and broaden your palate by purchasing only seasonal produce, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

If you think about it, you may find that you’re doing it to some extent already. Buying seasonal foods is deeply integrated into our culture – so perhaps it’s time to embrace the traditions and expand your shopping horizons a little more.

 

6.    Consider the environment  

Seasonal produce doesn’t require much human assistance in terms of pesticides and genetic modifications. It just…well, grows! On the other side, growing out-of-season crops often requires all those nasty things, which also contaminate water and soil. Health consequences can be tremendous! 

By opting to buy local, seasonal foods, you are far more likely to get cleaner products. Choices are even easier if you concentrate on organic foods, which are grown under strict guidelines using healthy, sustainable farming practices. 

 

There you have it – we’ve just reviewed some of the amazing benefits of eating seasonally! 

A final tip: please don’t go overboard! These benefits are great, no questions, but don’t make this a big banner you march under. If you enjoy a particular product, but it’s not in season – you can still have it! Just do your research and buy the “cleanest” version you can access nearby. If your health practitioner suggests you need more leafy greens, and you turn the advice down just because “they’re not in season”, it won’t do you any good.

Remember: everything is great in moderation, good intentions included.  

Bonus: Australian seasonal produce guide 

As we’ve mentioned above, before starting looking for something, you must know what it is, exactly. If you’ve been looking for a convenient seasonal produce guide, look no further – we have one for you!  

The following guide is based upon a great “Sustainable Table” resource – for a more comprehensive list (which also includes herbs and spices!) and a beautiful printer-friendly version, please visit https://www.sustainabletable.org.au/Hungryforinfo/Summer/tabid/99/Default.aspx

Please remember that some varieties of fruit and vegetables can be grown outside of season using technologies such as greenhouses. Flavour can be compromised, but those are still grown locally – if you must, it’s better to buy these products than counterparts imported from overseas. Some common examples include tomatoes, capsicum, berries and certain herbs.

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Fruit Vegetables
apple

apricot

banana

blackberries

blueberries

boysenberries

cantaloupe

cherries

currants

fig

grapefruit

grapes

honeydew

lemon

loganberries

lychee

mango

mulberries

nectarine

orange

passionfruit

peach

pear

plum

pineapple

rambutan

raspberries

rhubarb

strawberries

tamarillo

watermelon

asparagus

avocado

beans

beetroot

cabbage

capsicum

carrot

celery

corn

cucumber

daikon

eggplant

leek

lettuce

okra

onion

onion, spring

peas

peas, snow

peas, sugar snap

potato

radish

shallot

silverbeet

squash

tomato

watercress

zucchini

zucchini flower

 

autumn

Fruit Vegetables
avocado

apple

blackberries

banana

cumquat

custard apple

feijoa

fig

grapefruit

grapes

guava

honeydew

kiwi fruit

lemon

lime

mandarin

mango

mangosteen

nashi

orange

papaya

passionfruit

peach

pear

persimmon

plum

pomegranate

prickly pear

quince

rambutan

raspberries

rhubarb

rockmelon

strawberries

tamarillo

artichoke

asian greens

avocado

beans

beetroot

broccoli

brussels sprouts

cabbage

capsicum

carrot

cauliflower

celery

choko

corn

cucumber

daikon

eggplant

fennel

leek

lettuce

mushrooms

okra

onion

onion, spring

parsnip

peas

potato

pumpkin

radish

shallot

silverbeet

spinach

squash

swede

sweet potato

tomato

turnip

watercress

witlof

zucchini

 

winter

Fruit Vegetables
apple

avocado

cumquat

custard apple

feijoa

grapefruit

kiwi fruit

lemon

lime

mandarin

nashi

orange

pear

persimmon

pineapple

quince

rhubarb

tamarillo

tangelo

asian greens

avocado

beetroot

broccoli

broccolini

beans, broad

brussels sprouts

cabbage

carrot

cauliflower

celeriac

celery

chokos

fennel

horseradish

kale

kohlrabi

leek

lettuce

mushrooms

okra

onion

onion, spring

parsnip

peas

peas, snow

potato

pumpkin

radish

shallot

silverbeet

spinach

swede

sweet potato

turnip

 

spring

Fruit Vegetables
apple

avocado

banana

blueberries

cantaloupe

cherry

cumquat

grapefruit

honeydew

kiwi fruit

lemon

lime

loquat

lychee

mandarin

mango

mulberries

orange

papaya

pepino

pineapple

rhubarb

strawberries

starfruit

tangelo

watermelon

artichoke

asian greens

avocado

beans*

beetroot

broccoli

brussels sprouts

cabbage

capsicum

carrot

cauliflower

celery

choko

corn

cucumber

daikon

eggplant

fennel

leek

lettuce

mushrooms

okra

onion

onion, spring

parsnip

peas

potato

pumpkin

radish

shallot

silverbeet

spinach

squash

swede

sweet potato

tomato

turnip

watercress

witlof

zucchini

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