Have you ever wondered why avocados are so expensive coming into winter? It’s because they’re sold out of season. There aren’t as many around; and they’re unlikely to be at their best. Unfortunately, in Australia our demand for our favourite fruit and vegetables all year round means that what’s available isn’t always what’s in season. Seasonal produce is abundant, affordable, fresh and tasty. Eating seasonally can help stretch your food budget further, and help you bring home tastier, better quality produce.
Nutritionally, we need diversity in our diet to get a variety of different nutrients and to look after our gut health. We shouldn’t be eating the same thing day in and day out. Eating a varied diet in line with the changing seasons is not only a great way to get a wider variety of nutrients, but also an excellent way to hone in on what our bodies need. In winter, there is an abundance of citrus and kiwi fruits which are high in Vitamin C helping our immune system buffer against colds and flus. In summer, stone-fruit give us a boost of beta-carotene which can help protect against sun damage.
When you buy what's in season, you buy food that's at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get to your local shop. You’re also more likely to be buying produce that has been grown locally, reducing the food miles travelled. Food grown closer to home doesn’t spoil on the way, it’s harvested at the peak of the season (for optimal flavour and nutrition).
Fruit and vegetables that aren’t in season are picked before they’re ripe and stored until the season comes to a close or shipped from afar. Both processes are expensive and mean the produce is of reduced quality and nutrition.
As a guide for what’s in season, start with produce which is grown in Australia. Even better, buy from your local fruit and vegetable retailer. You’re more likely to be buying seasonally, but as an added bonus you get the retailers knowledge about what’s good for eating right now - no more floury apples! You will be supporting local business owners, farmers and producers.
Brought to you by Sarah Moore (RNutr, MPH).