Day 4 : Buy seasonal food

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What is seasonal food ?

We refer to seasonal food as produce that is purchased and consumed around the time of the year that it is harvested. Purchasing fresh apricots in season in Auckland, for example, means buying them in summer (Dec - Feb) shortly after farmers have harvested them.

Why should we buy and eat seasonal food ?

  1. Tastier
    Crops harvested at their peak of ripeness are fresher, tastier, and sweeter. An apple eaten right after being picked from the tree is vibrant in colour, smells amazing, is crisp, juicy and full of flavour. Out-of-season products are often harvested early, shipped, refrigerated, sometimes heated in a greenhouse for artificial ripening, and then distributed to our local retail stores, all of which reduces the flavour. Each day that that apple sits in a fridge, box or shelf, impacts its quality. The colour becomes dull as it begins to dry out, it loses its smell and taste, and eventually it becomes floury.

  2. Cheaper
    When crops are in season, farmers harvest a large abundance of produce, driving the cost per item goes down. Plus the produce is locally sourced when it’s in season, which means production costs go down because travelling and storage expenses aren’t required.

  3. More nutritious
    Fruits and vegetables have more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally on the parent plant. Fruits and vegetables that are transported or stored have reduced phyto-nutrient content. Some antioxidants like Vitamin C, folate and carotenes rapidly decline when stored for long periods of time. Seasonal foods are full of antioxidants, which fight free radicals, keep you young and keep diseases at bay. Large markets and grocers may buy out-of -season produce that has been gassed, irradiated (a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preserved in wax to extend the shelf life; the more preservatives that are added to unseasonal foods, the less nutrients they have, reducing their health benefits.

  4. Avoids contaminates
    Many countries have relaxed laws about chemicals being sprayed on produce, and some may not regulate soil contamination tests to ensure land and soil quality. Some agricultural areas have been shown to have very high heavy metal and other toxic contaminates due to industrial sites inhabiting the same area. Foods that are grown out of season are often sprayed with chemicals in order to help these foods survive out of season: some produce is irradiated, bleached and sprayed with methyl bromide to withstand quarantine and long periods of travel.

  5. Better for the environment
    Buying produce that is out of season in New Zealand means that it has either been imported from another country or grown in heated greenhouses. Both processes create carbon emissions. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are produced on local farms, so they do not need to be transported for long distances. Eating food in season also saves energy, as large greenhouses must be kept heated and well-lit in order to produce summer-grown foods in winter.

    Check out this calendar to know what products are in season in New Zealand right now !

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