The season to be healthy

Published

Michelle Williams turns her back on organic to reap the benefits of seasonal produce

The arguments in favour of buying organic are, at present, still not wholly convincing to some, myself included. Organic produce does not necessarily contain a higher nutrient content than non-organic, and some critics even suggest that given the increased farming land required to compensate for lower organic yields, such methods could actually be harmful to ecosystems. The current trendy status of virtuous organic products allows retailers to demand inflated prices from bourgeois consumers and eco-friendly yummy mummies at will.

Alternatively, the benefits of simply sticking to local, seasonal produce are unequivocal. Modern farming and transportation methods have made us accustomed to eating any food we please at any time of year, when in reality, to maximise the nutritional benefits of fruit and vegetables, we ought to be consuming according to season wherever possible.

Many vegetables are now grown year round within the UK, and no one would be realistically expected to curb the use of staples such as onions and potatoes according to the time of year. However, it pays to know what’s in season and to tailor recipes accordingly.

Seasonal produce will be more nutritious and flavoursome than forced hothouse grown alternatives, as crops are allowed to absorb sunlight and ripen naturally. Out of season fruit and veg flown in from abroad will suffer in the chilling and transportation process and will have been harvested long before ripeness, stripping its vitamin content. Many supermarkets now indicate on their packaging that a product has been flown in from far flung locations.

Produce sourced locally doesn’t need to be prepared for long journeys to market, and so will rely less heavily on irradiation and use of preservatives. Also, by buying according to what is currently harvested, we ought to benefit financially as crops in a natural seasonal glut will sell more cheaply.

By taking the following starter guide on board and employing a bit of imagination, we can all boost our immune systems and wallets, easing a little bit of carbon footprint guilt into the bargain.