Eating seasonally means eating foods which are currently growing and being harvested. Eating seasonally is important for three main reasons, the health of you, the health of the planet and the health of your bank balance.
The reason it is so good for your health is that the produce is being harvested at its best, it’s not being stored and it’s generally growing locally instead of travelling hundreds or even thousands of miles to get to your plate. When the produce is stored or transported it can damage the quality and the flavour, especially as most crops when being transported long distance are cut before they ripen so they are ripe for longer when on supermarket shelves. Crops are harvested at their peak of nutritional value and flavour. So eating something picked locally is more likely to be higher in nutrients and flavour than something picked in another country. If you eat fruit and veg as soon as it is picked it has a much sweeter taste, which means children are more likely to eat it rather than bland fruit and veg which is days or even weeks old.
The environment suffers when produce is transported, whether it is 50 miles or 5000 miles. Having a banana for your breakfast has become a norm in the UK, most people won’t check where that banana has come from or won’t think anything of it when seeing that it has come as far as Ivory Coast or Ecuador. If you really looked into the impact on the planet that the transportation of that banana has you may think again and pick a fruit that was grown and has been harvested closer to home. A banana grown in Ecuador is transported approximately 5733 miles to get to the UK, if transported by aeroplane the amount of carbon produced is 563 kg. You can use an air mile calculator found on different websites to work out the air miles and the amount of carbon produced on most foods. I used http://www.foodmiles.com. According to the royal geographical society in 2009 Kenya reported a food shortage but at the same time the country was sending huge quantities of produce to the UK daily. Kenya export an estimated 350 tonnes of vegetable and cut flowers a night which will reach the UK’s supermarkets shelves the very next day. This is not sustainable and could be avoided if we shopped with the seasons.
(Peppers exported from Spain, transported 787 miles, produced 77 kg of Carbon)
The cost of fruit and veg can change dramatically depending on when you buy. Eating seasonally will mean the produce is cheaper as there is more of it harvested and sold. For instance parsnips bought out of season in August 2015 cost £1.15/kg but when it was in season in February 2015 it was only £0.78/kg. If you purchased blackberries in August 2015 they would have cost £4.87/kg but only a month later I was picking them for free in the woodlands near me.
So ultimately when you buy seasonally, to make it better for your health, the planet and your bank balance you should consider buying locally too. Shopping in a green grocers or a farm shop can be the best way to find seasonal and local produce and the shop assistants will be able to advice you on cooking it. You are also supporting local farmers and businesses which is another major advantage. For even cheaper and tastier crops why not grow your own. This will be a great way to educate your children, reduce your carbon footprint and improve your bank balance.