Seasonal eating

29 March 2018
Eating seasonally has been a big part of connecting to where my food comes from and ultimately my food values.

With our current food supply system you can pretty much get any food you want at anytime of the year in most parts of the developed world. The only seasonal changes in what lines the supermarket shelves seems to be when they are trying to thrust holiday foods in our faces three months out from the actual event (I'm looking at you hot cross buns).

Tomatoes fresh off the vine - you can't beat that taste.


There are so many choices we can make around what we eat - organic, local, free range, fair trade to name just a few. Seasonality is just one factor when it comes to food, but for me it was an easy place to start. I've focused on seasonal eating of fruit and vegetables but there was a time when most of our food supply was affected by the seasons.

I must admit I didn't really think much about food and seasons before growing my own. Sure, I knew certain fruits grew in summer and tasted better then. I also knew that fruit and veg would be cheaper when in season but it didn't stop me from necessarily buying out of season. I'd buy zucchini and capsicum all year long for dishes and munch on apples right through until spring. The reason I didn't buy something had more to do with price (which of course carried some element of seasonality) or it not being on the meal plan that week.

Basil thrives in the summer sunshine (frost, not so much)

Seasonality was an easy marker to use as I started to connect more with food and make more conscious choices. Buying in season increased the chances that what I was buying was coming from somewhere near me (no guarantee but a good first step on my journey).  Farmers markets were a great place to build my knowledge of what was in season and what actually grows in my area. I didn't always buy everything I needed from the farmers market but it helped to increase my awareness.

Growing my own took that awareness to a whole new level. Plants just wont grow when they aren't meant to (and sometimes they wont grow for a whole lot of other reasons too!). Looking at planting and harvesting guides was a great way to get a feel for what grew when. Even if you aren't into gardening these guides can give you a good awareness of what's in season. If it's not the right time of  year for something to be growing in the garden, and you see it for sale locally, chances are it's come from a long way away or been grown using more resources.


Strawberries are definitely a seasonal delight

Once I had a little knowledge under my belt it was easy to make choices around only eating what was in season. And once I started eating seasonally there was no going back for two key reasons: taste and anticipation.

Regardless of food ethos or values I think most people would consider taste and enjoyment of what they eat as being pretty important. And really there is no comparison between something grown in or out of season. Have you had strawberries or tomatoes in winter? How about grapes or pumpkin in springtime? They're generally flavourless and sometimes even have an unappealing texture. Now, think of a piece of stone fruit enjoyed straight from the tree in summertime or a crisp autumn apple. I'm sure you can conjure memories from your own experiences of eating food at the height of its season. It really was a no-brainer for me once I got started.

Anticipation was an unexpected benefit. When you eat seasonally some foods are off the menu for certain periods of time. The anticipation of foods coming into season and the anticipation of the enjoyment of these foods was heightened. In turn the actual enjoyment of the foods was also heightened because I'd been looking forward to them (Science nerd alert: there is even research on the positive emotional impact of anticipation).

These days eating seasonally is second nature for our family. My oldest daughter even associates certain seasons and months with certain foods which warms the heart of this food connection focussed mamma.

If you haven't already, I'd encourage you to think about how seasonal eating could fit into your food choices if only for the amazing difference in taste and enjoyment that you'll get to experience.

Do you have a favourite seasonal food memory?
Do you eat seasonally? If so, what are the main benefits for you? If not, are you game to give it a go?

4 comments

  1. I really dislike supermarket tomatoes and am eyeing off yours with envy. I hope to get some at our farmers market on Saturday. I am looking forward to our oranges being ripe as I really miss oranges over summer. We have two orange trees and a massive mandarin tree which was much appreciated by our children when they were growing up.

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    1. Growing up I thought I didn't like tomatoes, but then I tasted homemade and I realised I just didn't like supermarket tomatoes. Nothing like fresh oranges off the tree. We sadly left behind our amazing tree in Adelaide and it's going to be sorely missed this winter by all members of the family.

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  2. My favourite time of year is Autumn here in the UK, I always look forward to making pumpkin soup. I am going to try to eat more seasonal food and start growing in pots like you do as we rent too.

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    1. I'm with you - Autumn is my favourite season too. You can't go past a good bowl of soup. The minute the temperature drops I've get a pot going. Hope to hear more from you as you start to grow your own and shift to more seasonal eating. It's a good time to start in the UK with the weather warming up. Good luck.
      Cheers,
      Laura

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