The Benefits and Importance of Choosing Seasonal Foods

Today, we'd like to discuss the importance and benefits of eating seasonal foods and some of the most characteristic foods each season. Keep reading to learn more!
The Benefits and Importance of Choosing Seasonal Foods

Last update: 13 November, 2021

Seasonal foods are food that is naturally available in the market for a certain period of time. This coincides with their natural biological cycle and usually corresponds to fruit, vegetables, fish, and seafood.

However, eating according to what nature has to offer in each season is not the most common practice nowadays. You only have to look around at most shops and supermarket trolleys to realise that we have the same food at our fingertips every day of the year.

The problem is that we’re not aware of the negative effects of this convenience. Well, to put it another way: we don’t think about the benefits of eating seasonal foods.

Diet is a powerful tool to improve our health and that of the planet. Eating in season is a stepping stone to achieving this.

Find out more about what it is and its benefits below!

Seasonal foods and when to find them

No te olvides de los vegetales para perder peso.
Seasonal and local shopping is good for your wallet, your health, the flavor of your meals, and the environment.

Most of us know that beans are a summer product or that oranges come in winter. However, do we know which are the spring fruits and vegetables? Are the strawberries we buy in autumn from the greenhouse? Are you interested in knowing why tomatoes don’t taste as good as they did years ago?

The great availability of food at any time of the year has made it difficult for us to know which is the right season for each one of them. Although this changes depending on where we are, as a reference these are the best times to eat some of the most common fruits and vegetables:

  • Autumn: This is a time for persimmons, figs, pomegranates, apples, grapes and the last of the melons and peaches. As for vegetables, we have the last tomatoes and the beginning of chard, pumpkins, spinach, leeks, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.
  • Winter: At this time, the presence of fruits is limited to avocados, lemons, oranges and kiwis. The vegetables of choice are chard, cabbage, endive, spinach or cauliflower.
  • Spring: No more avocados and oranges! Instead, you can find strawberries, cherries, apricots. Also, watermelons tend to arrive at the end of the season. As for vegetables, it’s the ideal time to eat artichokes, peas, asparagus, spinach, or carrots.
  • Summer: Both in fruits and vegetables, summer is the time for the red, orange, and purple colors. Raspberries, strawberries, peaches, watermelons, pears, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, beetroots, cucumbers, green beans, or courgettes are all growing during this time.

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Reasons to choose seasonal foods

Our current food system puts significant pressure on the planet’s resources. This has to do with aspects as varied as production, transport, food waste, and waste generated.

For this reason, it’s essential to consume food consciously and choose not only the healthiest but also the most sustainable and best quality. Best of all, it’s important to remember that our small daily gestures can make a positive contribution.

Some of the reasons that may be behind the choice of seasonal foods are the reduction of pollution linked to transport and production itself. Also, there’s the fact that food is fresher and retains its original qualities better

Moreover, if these foods are grown nearby (which is desirable), it contributes to rural local development and a good link between the rural and urban locations.

What are the benefits of eating seasonal foods?

Verduras para un conejo como mascota.
Choosing seasonal foods contributes to our good health, as well as benefiting the planet.

Seasonal foods are more nutritious

All fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients when they’re picked at optimum ripeness.

Out of season, normal ripening cycles are broken and this affects their composition. Also, the time of storage and transport affects the nutrients that begin to be lost from the time of collection.

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Seasonal foods are tastier

This is one of the characteristics that is most obvious because it can be perceived from the first bite.

Foods that are harvested at the right time are fresher, sweeter and more aromatic than those that have been artificially ripened and have spent long periods in cold storage.

Out of season and harvested in advance, foods usually go through cooling, storage and subsequent heating in a greenhouse to get them to ripen. All these processes greatly reduce the flavour and also alter the texture and juiciness of fruit and vegetables.

They’re more affordable foods

When in season, foods are more plentiful. This has an impact on their price which is usually lower than when bought at a less than optimal time.

They provide variety to your diet

Despite what it may seem at first, eating seasonal foods provides the opportunity to have a more varied diet throughout the year. In fact, it can be a perfect opportunity to discover unfamiliar foods and experiment with recipes that you haven’t tried before!

In addition, all that’s gained in taste and freshness will make you appreciate more some foods that may have stopped eating to notice a loss of flavor and quality.

There are important environmental benefits to choosing seasonal foods

The combination of seasonality and proximity offers great advantages in terms of ecology and sustainability.

On the one hand, it reduces carbon dioxide emissions and energy consumption derived from transport over long distances and the use of heating and artificial lighting to produce crops out of season.

On the other hand, it also helps to respect the natural cycle of production and promotes the development of local trade by generating wealth in the immediate environment.

Consuming seasonal foods: A step towards a more sustainable and healthy diet

As we’ve explained throughout the article, eating seasonal foods is a very positive step in eating habits. They’re tastier, more nutritious and more affordable. In addition, they’re more environmentally friendly.

The time span to enjoy a particular food is indeed shorter. However, the season of some products can be extended by canning both fruits and vegetables at home. In this way, they can be enjoyed for a longer period.

However, this important step is complemented by other interesting actions that improve the quality of the diet and its impact on the environment.

Whenever possible, it’s best to buy local, non-intensive farming, reduce your intake of food of animal origin, and avoid food waste as much as possible. These are all small gestures that can contribute in a simple way to create a healthier and more sustainable world, and to live in harmony with nature and its life cycles.

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  • Agencia de Salud Publica de Cataluña. Pequeños cambios para comer mejor. 2019.
  • Macdiarmid J. I. Seasonality and dietary requirements: will eating seasonal food contribute to health and environmental sustainability? The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. Agosto 2014. 73 (3): 368-75.
  • Soy de temporada. Calendario de alimentos de temporada.