Springtime in Australia is the perfect time to re-assess your health and the way you shop.
Eating seasonal produce is part of human nature that has been incorporated into many ancient cultures. Ritucharya is an example of seasonal eating that has been used in the Indian practice of Ayurveda for over 5,000 years. Considered a vital foundation for good health, Ritucharya shows that seasonal eating is not a new phenomenon.
With modern transportation and sophisticated mass farming practices delivering a wide variety of fresh food, it can be daunting and difficult to know which foods are in season and best to eat.
All year round availability means that food has often travelled many kilometres to supermarkets. CERES Community Environment Park, a not-for-profit, urban farm and sustainability centre conducted a study into the food miles in Victoria. This study found that a typical basket in Victoria has travelled around 21,073 km. The items in the typical food basket were chosen by the Queensland Government to include popular and commonly available food.
One way to reduce the amount of distance food travels is to buy local, seasonal produce. Eating produce that is in season is not only environmentally friendly but can also help you save money, support local suppliers and improve the nutrition of the food.
Eating in-season local produce is beneficial to the environment in a number of ways, including through reducing greenhouse gas emissions. When food is transported throughout the country and the world a large amount of energy is put into packing, refrigerating and transporting the produce. By buying local, seasonal produce you are able to save just under 10% of the emissions produced by that food according to Our World In Data.
Buying seasonal produce can also help you to save money through the increased availability of that food. While the demand for in-season produce may be high, there is often still an abundance of the produce which, in-turn lowers its price. Through the reduced transportation cost of buying local you are also able to save money while enjoying fresher produce.
Better taste and nutrition
Seasonal produce not only tastes better, but is better for you through its high nutrition content. The longer food has to travel to get to you means the more the nutrients and taste is impacted, especially if foods are frozen and defrosted. A study by the University of California found that, when stored at 4°C for seven days, 15% of the vitamin C in green peas was lost. Similarly, green beans stored in the same condition had a 77% reduction of their vitamin C content. While this is only an example, it clearly shows the impact storage and transportation can have on the nutritional content of produce.
Finding a local supplier is one of the most important steps to shopping seasonally and can help take the pressure off knowing what produce is in season. Ordering fruit and vegetables locally means you can get seasonal produce delivered to your door at an affordable price, while supporting small businesses.
Being a Melbourne based journalist, here are some of my local stores as an example.
The Leaf Store is a premium grocer suppling sustainable, organic produce to its customers. Based in Hawthorn and Elwood, The Leaf Store offers delivery on all its products and specialises in meal delivery boxes. Each box contains meals created by their team of qualified Nutritionists and Dietitians that highlight seasonal fruits and vegetables. Check them out at: https://shop.theleafstore.com.au/#
Pino’s Fine Produce has $30 boxes of fresh, seasonal produce that is packaged will minimal plastic and is delivered once a week. As a tried and tested product, I can assure you Pino’s boxes are bang for your buck. Check them out: https://pinosfineproduce.com/
Nova Fresh offers delivery seven days a week and have boxes starting from just $25, check them out at: https://novafresh.com.au/fruit-box-delivery-melbourne/
|Herbs and Spices
For more information on seasonal produce and for a produce calendar, visit http://environmentvictoria.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/seasonal-food-calendar.pdf.