At supermarkets we can get most fruits and vegetables all-year round no matter what the season, but buying out of season comes at a price, including lower nutritional quality and greater burden on the environment.
If you are looking for the greatest taste and nutritional benefit it is unlikely that you’ll find the answer on your supermarket shelves. Food grown locally – which is able to reach you within hours of being picked – will give you the most nutritional value.
The reason for this is that from the moment fruit and vegetables are harvested they begin to lose nutrients. This doesn’t bode well for food that is flown or shipped from abroad, which not only takes longer to reach our stores, but also undergoes extra handling, packaging and storage all of which can degrade its quality.
How to Find Local Food
You can use websites such as Local Food Advisor to find food growers and suppliers close to where you live – and you could be surprised at what is just around the corner from you. Fill in the quick search form on the home page and you’re sure to make some discoveries!
You may also find that there is a regular farmers’ market near you. Check out the Certified Farmers’ Markets website to locate markets near you. At the farmers’ market you’ll find food sold by the farmer who grew it and who probably harvested it earlier that day – it will be seasonal and fresh, and you should notice a difference in the taste.
Another way to ‘eat local’ is to organise a veg box delivery. Some of the most well-known companies that do this in the UK include Riverford and Abel and Cole, and you can even get a veg box from your milkman.
What’s in Season When?
Before supermarkets, more people grew their own fruit and vegetables out of necessity or bought from local stalls and shops filled with fresh supplies from local farmers. We all knew what was in season back then, but these days we’ve lost touch.
Luckily, today there are a number of websites that can tell us what’s in season when. Jamie Oliver’s website has a handy table which shows the seasons of around 50 popular foods, including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and seafood. A similar chart can be found on the website The Time is Ripe.
If you have an iPhone you can have all this information on the move with the Seasons iPhone app.
If you don’t already grow your own or buy local, give it a go and see if you notice a difference. I believe that buying local food in season is the way to go if you want to get the best taste and nutritional value from your food. As well as avoiding all the negative aspects of buying out of season, you will be supporting your local farmers and other food producers, too.