Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eat Right Tips: Eat In Season

Thank You: Green Alerts: Eat Right Tips: Eat In Season:

Pix: Harrison Eastwood / Istock

Why eat in season?
There's a reason “Locavore” was the 2007 Oxford Word of the Year. Eating fruits and vegetables at the time of harvest means you're eating them when they're fresh, have traveled less and have been stored less.

That means a tastier food that has typically required fewer resources to reach you. For instance, a blueberry in April (from Florida) to September (from Michigan) will arrive fresher -- and cheaper -- than its counterpart flown in from South America during the winter.

Eating in season saves cost.
When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. It’s the basic law of supply and demand, and when crops are in season you’ll be rewarded financially by purchasing what’s growing now.
For food in season, its taste also count.
For most of us, the taste of the food we buy is every bit as important as the cost, if not more so. When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste. Compare a dark red, vine-ripened tomato still warm from the summer sun with a winter hothouse tomato that's barely red, somewhat mealy, and lacking in flavor. When transporting crops, they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t rot during transportation. They may not ripen as effectively as they would in their natural environment and as a result they don’t develop their full flavor.

According to Susan Herrmann Loomis, owner of On Rue Tatin Cooking School in France and author of numerous cookbooks. “Foods lose flavor just as they lose moisture when they are held. Fresh, locally harvested foods have their full, whole flavors intact, which they release to us when we eat them,”. “Foods that are chilled and shipped lose flavor at every step of the way – chilling cuts their flavor, transport cuts their flavor, being held in warehouses cuts their flavor.” It’s hard to be enthusiastic about eating five servings a day of flavorless fruits and vegetables and it’s even harder to get your children to be enthusiastic about it.

Easting in season not only saves nutrient and flavor, but also saves gas.
According to Brian Halweil, author of “Eat Here: Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket,” “If you harvest something early so that it can endure a long distance shipping experience, it’s not going to have the full complement of nutrients it might have had.” In addition, transporting produce sometimes requires irradiation (zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce which is subsequently refrigerated during the trip.

Therefore determine what’s in season right now and dig in. You’ll be rewarded with high quality produce, packed with nutrition, at a lower cost. And your taste buds will definitely thank you for it!