You may have heard from various foodies and experts that eating “seasonally” is better for you and better for your wallet. Buying seasonally just means that you use foods that are grown in the season in which you are eating them—makes sense, right? Eating seasonally is healthier for you, better for the planet, and can save you money. What’s not to love?
A lot of people talk about foods that are “in season” without really thinking about what that means in the bigger picture. Cooking and eating seasonally means more than just a conversational piece at the grocery store or a trendy food movement. There are numerous benefits to eating seasonally, some of which we will outline for you here.
Save Money, Eat More, Eat Better
I’m sure you’ve noticed that “in season” has become synonymous with “save money.” This is one of the most obvious benefits of eating seasonal foods. By buying food when it’s at its growing peak, there is less of a cost to farmers, distribution companies, and grocery store to produce and keep it. Thus, the savings are passed on to you, the consumer.
This also means that you are getting great-tasting, healthy foods. If foods are picked during peak season, they can be delivered before they spoil, meaning that the quality is higher. This usually means that food is more flavorful, fresh, and hasn’t had a chance to lose any health benefits over long, grueling travel times.
The longer the travel time that foods are subjected to, the less likely you are to be getting them at their best and their healthiest. Plus, the more people that have to handle these foods on their journey, the more wages that have to be paid, which means more cost to you.
Support Sustainable and Local Growers
Buying locally means that you have the best chance of picking seasonal foods that have not been harvested too early and stored for long periods of time. You’ll be eating seasonally and supporting growers in your community. The best place to do this is at farmer’s markets and food co-ops in your area or to look for fresh food delivery services in your neighbourhood. You can also check out various organic and sustainable food options while shopping around your local markets.
You can buy seasonally from a regular grocery store, too, but cheaper prices often mean cheaper products. Items may have been stored for long periods of time or stored poorly upon arrival and may have lost some of their flavor, freshness, or nutritional content as a result. If you can shop seasonally and locally, that is your best bet.
Worried about the costs of farmer’s markets and other local choices? Read our breakdown of why and how you pay more for sustainable and local foods.
Eat More, Different Foods
Eating seasonally challenges you to try new things by experimenting with whatever is available. You may be surprised how much you enjoy different tastes and dishes as you plan new and exciting meals around seasonal foods. This kind of variety can also encourage you to explore a more balanced and well-rounded diet.
For many people, some of this seasonal shopping is natural. You eat fresh berries in the summer and squash and apples in the fall. These things have become part of our culture so much so that we may not think much about them. Understanding seasonal foods and flavours can help to enrich your meals and expose you to delicious (and affordable) produce.
What Foods and How Much?
If you are new to eating seasonally, or just want to develop a better understanding of it, there are a few ways to key in on exactly what is seasonal where you’re from.
Pay attention to changing prices in your regular grocery store or market. As things get higher in price (like berries at the end of fall), they are most likely “out of season.” Meanwhile, if there are foods with higher quantities, better quality, and lower prices, they are probably “in season.”
There’s no need to take seasonal eating to the extreme, though. Feel free to enjoy your favourite healthy foods year-round, when possible. Eating seasonally is just another way to get the most out of your meals but it shouldn’t be the be-all-end-all to your shopping and cooking experience.
Eating seasonally is a great way to save money and expose yourself to new foods, so have fun with it – and eat well!
Looking for an artisan bakery in Vancouver that is committed to using fresh, local ingredients? Come visit us at A Bread Affair on Granville Island.