Fruits and vegetables naturally grow in cycles and ripen during a certain season each year. Purchasing your fruits and vegetables when they naturally ripen is called ‘eating seasonally’, and eating with the seasons has some serious perks to it.
Choosing seasonal produce can help you get the most value out of your dollar. Fruits and vegetables picked during their season are in peak supply and this means the cost of growing, harvesting and transporting produce is much lower. If your produce is sourced locally from Australian farmers, the cost of transporting and storing the crops is reduced too. All of these savings are passed on to you, the consumer. For example, buying berries when they are in season is much friendlier on the wallet than buying in their offseason when prices can double or even triple!
Non-seasonal produce typically must be harvested before it is ripe, cooled to stall ripening, stored and transported significant distances to where it will be sold and consumed. The ripening process is then controlled by hot rooms, humidity and ethylene to cause even, uniform ripening. The other way seasonal fruits and vegetables are farmed in Australia is with the assistance of greenhouses. While there are no food safety issues with either of these methods, seasonal fruit and veggies are naturally ripened on the plant, tree or vine and harvested when they are in their prime. This means tastier, crispier vegetables and sweeter fruits. Strawberries are a great example of how sweet and delicious in-season varieties are.
Buying out-of-season fruits and vegetables can mean your food has travelled thousands of kilometres with controlled ageing in that time. This can affect nutrient density – particularly some antioxidants. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in folic acid which decays over time and the vitamin C content of spinach can decrease by up to 90%! In-season produce is fresher and this can mean it’s higher in nutritional value.
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