How Eating Seasonally Helps the Environment, Our Communities, & Ourselves
Now that we’re in full fall mode, we’ve been taking advantage of the season’s best flavors—pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts, among many others. Although this is often intuitive, seasonal eating is more than just a tasty way to celebrate the changing seasons; it’s also a great way to take better care of ourselves and our environment.
In this post, we’ll delve into eight undeniable reasons we should all be eating seasonal foods and the many ways that doing so benefits our skin, overall health, and even our finances.
Food that’s in season tastes better—and it’s healthier.
When our diets are in tune with the seasons, we’re getting food that is grown closer to us and therefore has spent less time in transit, which causes veggies and fruits to lose nutrients and flavor. Food that’s harvested at its peak season will inevitably be fresher and tastier. Also, crops harvested in season have gotten more sun, which means more antioxidants. This is great news for our skin, as antioxidants help reduce free radicals and inflammation and can even help protect us from sun damage. Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and watermelon are all packed with sun-protection goodness and carrots may even reverse sun damage.
Keeping a seasonal diet is more likely to help local farmers.
When you focus on food that’s in season, you’re often supporting local farmers as well. To be sure of this, simply check the labels at the grocery store, or better yet, hit up your local farmer’s market or co-op. Even when eating seasonally, there’s no guarantee that your veggies aren’t coming from a less-than-ethical source or are being stored in a warehouse for some time before shipping. Joining a community-supported agriculture group (CSA) is another great way to support local farmers and guarantees a wide variety of produce while allowing you to get more involved in your community.
Eating with the seasons saves you money.
When we buy what’s in season, we avoid having to fork over extra money for food that’s grown further away or off-season. Shipping produce across the country or the world tacks on extra cost for us. When produce is in season, supply and demand are balanced. Trying to get a good tomato during winter in New York, on the other hand, is a different story. Keep an eye out for price fluctuations at the grocery store; costs rise and fall depending on what’s in season.
You’re more likely to get clean, pesticide-free food.
Buying locally and seasonally increases your chances of getting organic, pesticide-free goodies. Although it’s become easier to find organic food, smaller farmers often can’t afford the costly process involved in organic certification but are still using natural, clean processes. If you’re unsure or want to learn more, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the sellers at your local farmer’s market. Plus, veggies and fruit grown off-season are more likely to require the use of chemicals, pesticides, and preservatives such as wax.
Seasonal diets are just more fun.
When we take advantage of each season’s bounty, we also get to fully enjoy the uniqueness of each season and connect more organically with the passing of time. Spending an afternoon cherry picking or sipping apple cider are classic ways to take in the flavors of autumn. We can now enjoy fresh cranberries, beets, cabbage, pumpkin, pomegranates, persimmons, squash, and much more. Pumpkins, a fall staple, are amazing for your skin by the way. In addition to being hydrating, they contain carotenoids—plant pigments that give them their beautiful orange color—which neutralize free radicals, thereby preventing wrinkles. Pumpkins are also packed with vitamins A, C, and E.
Eating in tune with the seasons is better for the environment.
Our favorite foods take a toll on the environment—food production releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and fossil fuels. Transporting food across long distances also emits fossil fuels, which contribute to acid rain, air pollution, and global warming. Eating seasonally—and better yet, locally—helps cut down on environmental impact. Be sure to also keep an eye out for minimal packaging; the less packaging a food has, the less energy and chemicals expended and the less waste produced.
Seasonal eating expands your horizons.
When we focus on fall’s rutabagas, for instance, rather than clinging onto last season’s tomatoes, we get the chance to explore new flavors and experiment with new recipes. A diverse diet usually means a balanced diet, and a balanced diet means smoother, clearer skin, more energy, and a faster metabolism. To quickly find out what’s in season near you, try out this super-handy Seasonal Food Guide, which includes tons of delicious recipes and general cooking and preparation instructions.
Our bodies crave seasonal change.
The changing seasons and our subsequent changing diets are basically nature’s way of adjusting our bodies for the coming shift. In the spring, for instance, leafy greens like spinach help us detox and alkalize after a heavier winter diet; in summer, we naturally replenish lost fluids and cool down with cucumbers, melons, and so on.
Enjoying fall’s seasonal foods is the perfect way to ring in this beautiful time of year. Eating seasonally and locally gets us naturally in tune with the calendar, supports local farmers, and makes for healthier, more delicious meals—not only helping our bodies and skin, but also the world around us.
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