Are seasonal foods the key to healthier, environmentally friendly living?

With the world sharing and mass-producing foods, it's easy to forget that some fruits and vegetables are actually seasonal. 

Think about the fruits you eat, particularly mangoes, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, and pineapples. They're labelled as summer fruits for a reason – it's the time of year when they are traditionally harvested. However, in most cases, you are able to buy them from your favourite supermarket all year round. 

The question then is: what are the benefits of eating seasonal foods in the 'correct' season? Let's take a look. 

Enhances flavour and nutrition Fresh produce is, well, fresher when it comes straight from the farm without travelling thousands of kilometres to reach its final destination. This also means that nothing needs to be done to the fruits to preserve them while in transit – nobody likes a mouldy strawberry. In keeping with the theme of preservatives, unprocessed fresh foods are packed with flavour and are free from additives, meaning that you're getting a delicious dose of necessary vitamins and minerals with every bite. 

Supports a healthy microbiome  Both inside and out, our bodies harbour a huge array of microorganisms – also called the microbiome –which promote a healthy immune system and digestive health. Our microbiomes are constantly changing, often in line with the different seasons. Some think that this may happen as our bodies attempt to adapt to the new seasons and the various foods available at that time. For example, summer fruits, such as pineapples and strawberries, are high in fructose to give us the energy we need to lead more active lifestyles on balmy days. As we move into colder weather, we become less active, and our bodies won't be able to use the extra energy as they did before, so autumnal and winter veggies can be used in healthy, hearty soups instead. Therefore, eating with the seasons supports a balanced diet, meeting your body's nutritional needs for each season. 

Is cost-effective When foods are readily available, they become a lot cheaper. Alternatively, when foods are not in season, you'll pay more for the same item. So, eating seasonal foods can help you save money in the long run. 

Reduces your carbon footprint By sourcing fresh produce locally, transport costs decrease, and so do the carbon emissions of the trucks. And with less food processing involved, not as many factories are needed, further reducing our environmental impact. 

Supports your local community Local farms have worked hard to ensure that their crops are harvested for you to enjoy, so instead of heading out to malls and shopping centres, why not go to the local farmers market? You'll be helping a small business while ensuring that your family follows a healthy, nutritious diet. Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables has so many benefits, a lot more than you may have realised. So, the next time you need to stock up on groceries, why not think twice and buy in-season produce or support a local farmer?