4 Min Read
The 5 Best Reasons Why Eating Local and In-Season is Good for Us
Unless you live on a tropical island or in a cave somewhere, you probably noticed that autumn is upon us. The leaves are changing into amazing colors, there's a briskness to the air, and football dominates our weekends. But, the more in-your-face signs of fall are those weird-shaped baskets overflowing with seasonal produce, Halloween candy, and pumpkin spice everything.
Advertisers want you to know, "It's fall, y'all!" Autumn technically begins on September 22nd, but marketers moved it up to Labor Day to take advantage of our love of the season. Fall will only last until Halloween, though. When do you think you'll see your first Christmas commercial?
We love the changing of seasons, and it's more instinctual than you may realize. Spring and fall are incredibly close to our hearts because they are transitional seasons. Why do you think these two seasons are so important to us?
The very survival of our ancestors relied heavily on the planting season, spring, and the harvest season, autumn. Generations as recent as our grandparents couldn't eat fresh produce all year round. They ate according to what fruit or vegetable was in season locally. Grocery stores were small, family businesses, and you couldn't find a fresh tomato on the shelf in January.
At what age do you think your grandmother saw her first avocado? Unless she's from Mexico or California, you probably ate your first avocado before she knew they existed. The most popular fruit in America is the banana, and it didn't arrive here until the 1870s when introduced at the World's Fair. Today, we're willing to bet you can buy a fresh banana grown in Central America or the Caribbean at almost every grocery store in the world.
So, what has all this food accessibility done to our diets? Some experts believe the continuous availability of fruit and vegetables to be the precursor of the worldwide sugar epidemic. Nature intended for us to eat these foods seasonally. Every year, there was a short window of opportunity when we ate sugar and built fat stores for the coming winter. Now, we consume sugar daily, but our body still thinks we need to store it for leaner times. That's not good!
If you haven't figured it out by now, we should eat seasonally and locally for better health. Does this mean you should never eat an avocado or banana in the winter? Of course not. It means that you should make an effort to eat the freshest fruits and vegetables available. Here's why:
In-season produce just tastes better. Have you ever noticed the difference between a grocery store tomato and one fresh-picked from your garden? Any fruit or vegetable that has the appearance of freshness on your grocery chain's shelf was picked green, transported a long distance, and warehoused before hitting your tastebuds. This process can take weeks and involves chemical treatments in most cases.
A garden or farmer's market tomato lived on the vine days or hours before you ate it. This juicy, flavorful tomato had time to ripen and develop all of its nutritious goodness.
Industrial farming leads to mono-crop production using the same land and soil. Big food companies know what we like, and they produce a lot of it. A local farmer rotates their crops allowing for the ground to recover nutrients that plants deplete. Every plant has different soil nutrient requirements, and using land for multiple crops is better nutritionally.
Going back to our friend, the banana, do you know that today's banana is utterly bereft of any nutritional value. If you ever get the chance to pick a wild banana, it won't taste anything like the bananas you're used to eating. Over the years, the banana, like almost every mass-produced crop, has been genetically modified for taste over nutrition.
Several studies show that produce grown seasonally has almost twice the nutrient density than those grown out of season. These same studies also concluded that the growing season has a more significant impact on nutrition density than whether the produce is organically grown.
We realize that some farmer's markets can be a bit pricey but purchasing local, seasonally grown food is good for the wallet. When fruits and vegetables are in season, there is more supply available, resulting in lower prices.
The most affordable way to eat seasonally is by joining a local food co-op. In a co-op, a farmer or group of farmers provide meat, eggs, produce, and dairy directly from the farm. This system usually involves a monthly membership fee with a limited ability to select your items. You get what they harvest.
Whether or not climate change is your thing, you have to admit that eating anything that's transported thousands of miles on ships or trucks can't be good for the environment.
According to intactforests.org, agricultural expansion accounts for roughly 28% of the 7 billion trees cut down each year.
When you decide to eat seasonally, it provides the opportunity to support your local farmer instead of some international food conglomerate. Cargill, ConAgra, Nestle, and ADM don't need your money, and your local farmer does.
Besides financially supporting your community, eating seasonally gives you a chance to interact with your neighbors. Community involvement is vital to our health and well-being. Research conducted on the world's Blue Zones shows one commonality is a sense of community. Another characteristic of these places where people live into their hundreds is growing their food and eating seasonally.
You can always carry your pumpkin spiced concoction from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks while cruising the farmer's market or apple picking. We won't make fun of you much.
Eat better. Live better.
Anther. Male wellness where it counts.