These are strange times we live in when we have no idea as to the origin of our food. We are happy to enjoy the red flesh of tomatoes all year round, top our oatmeal with strawberries each morning, and reach for the earthy, wooden tomes of asparagus for a hearty winter risotto.
Little do most know, if it not meant to be this way. Just like the weather, food cycles through seasons. One most unfortunate offspring of globalisation is that reduced travel time and cheaper overheads have allowed growing cycles to continue perpetually, with their bounty exported all over the world. The result is a flood in our grocery stores of strawberries in winter, root vegetables in summer and avocados and bananas all year round.
Thankfully there is a way to reclaim control over what we put in our mouths and it is a simple solution that starts at home. Below are a few reasons highlighting the importance of seasonal, local eating.
1. Local ensures freshness
Consuming produce that has been grown in the correct cycle and harvested at its peak is the best way to ensure maximum freshness and quality.
2. It builds and strengthens communities
When you source your fresh produce from a farmers' market, you are doing more than just buying groceries. A local shop is a vote with your wallet. Each dollar you spend at your local market goes back to the farmer who grew your produce, not to big agriculture.
Keeping farms financially strong ensures the continued availability of local food for our communities. Through our food choices we can profoundly alter the state of our most precious supply chain, returning it to how it should be.
3. It is better for the environment
Produce that is available year-round is that way because it travels to your grocery store, often covering thousands of miles before it is ready to be purchased.
Local food avoids this issue. A true farm-to-table system works by delivering freshly harvested food directly to the market or consumer, meaning the distance travelled is dramatically reduced.
Secondly, because of the quick delivery time, local food doesn't clock up hours sitting in a warehouse or cooler, both of which place a huge energy drain on the environment.
4. It raises awareness
Knowing where your food comes from is powerful knowledge. Having a level of awareness when it comes to food selection means that we immediately become intimately involved in the sourcing process. When we demand clean, sustainable and fresh food, instead of mass-produced, tasteless options, we become informed consumers.
5. It promotes simplicity
Cooking a delicious meal from scratch isn't complicated and it doesn't have to involve a hundred ingredients. When you cook with high-quality food, the flavours speak for themselves, and you find that you need less to achieve more.