From high-end restaurants to private homes, eating seasonally is one of the biggest food trends of the past few years. Some trends are based on popularity contests, but seasonal eating has a long history, and is grounded in benefits to the health of your body, mind, and community.

Fresh Does Not Mean Ripe

We are accustomed to finding nearly every variety of fresh produce at the supermarket year-round. When produce is sold outside of its normal local growing season, its flavor and nutrient content is diminished. In addition, out-of-season produce often comes from across the country, or it is shipped in from other countries. Not only has this food traveled long distances, but it may have been exposed to pesticides or other chemicals that are banned in the United States.

Seasonal Tastes Better

Taste is the biggest attraction of eating seasonally. By default, eating seasonally means eating locally. Locally grown foods picked in season are bursting with flavor compared to picked-green foods that have been shipped. Seasonal local food often contains more nutrients, since it is picked at peak ripeness, and also tend to be higher in phytochemicals and antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamins A and C.

Seasonal Supports Local Farmers

Eating seasonally supports local growers, which is good for your community. When you eat seasonally and buy from local growers, it keeps your food dollars in your own community rather than distributing them across the country and across the globe. It is also better for the environment, since small local growers and individual gardeners are more likely to use sustainable practices. You may also be exposed to fewer pesticides. Since GMO seeds are only available to commercial farmers, you are less likely to be exposed to GMO foods.

Seasonal Makes You Mindful

Eating seasonally makes you more mindful of food and eating, which can change your whole relationship with food. Cooking takes a little more creativity and planning, especially in the winter, and this forces you to think about what you are eating and why, and to introduce more variety into your diet.

Sources:

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/7_benefits_of_eating_local_foods

http://www.med.umich.edu/pfans/docs/tip-2011/seasonproduce-1011.pdf

http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/food/SeasonalEating/Pages/introduction.aspx#