Winter Seasonal Foods and Benefits
What are the benefits of winter seasonal foods?
It can feel like we are spoilt for choice when it comes to food availability, being able to buy most fruits and vegetables year-round, even when they're not in season. Looking back a few decades ago, when the food market wasn't as globalised as it is now, people had no choice but to eat seasonally. This, however, wasn’t such a bad thing as choosing to eat seasonally is beneficial for not only the environment, but for your health and pocket too.
What are the benefits of shopping seasonally?
Just because something is available in the supermarket, doesn't necessarily mean it's in season. Shopping seasonally means buying produce that grows naturally in abundance during certain times of the year. Choosing to buy produce that is in season has several benefits as listed below.
When produce is grown out of season, this typically means more chemicals, energy and resources are used during the process, compared to growing in season foods. Produce grown out of season is also shipped from overseas, which requires a lot of resources and as a result, produces a lot of greenhouse gases. When buying in season, produce will usually come from local farmers and require far less resources to get the food on supermarket shelves.
Because out of season produce is shipped from overseas, it must be picked before it is fully ripened and refrigerated to stop it from spoiling during transport. Foods that are grown in season also contain nutrients that your body needs during that season. Winter seasonal produce is particularly high in vitamin C, which is important for our immune system and helps fight infections during the cooler months (1).
Nutrition isn't the only thing impacted by premature picking of produce. In-season produce, particularly fruits, are far more flavoursome, sweet and juicy compared to out-of-season produce. This is because after the produce is prematurely picked and arrives at its destination, it is sprayed with ethylene gas to artificially ripen before going onto supermarket shelves. (2) This reduces the flavour, texture and taste significantly.
Buying in season produce that has been grown in abundance and locally, usually makes it more affordable than out of season produce. If you're not familiar with what season different foods are grown in, the cost of produce is usually a good indicator of this.
What foods are seasonal in Winter?
There are several nutritious and delicious foods that are in season during winter. See the table below for some examples.
· Lemon and limes
· Sweet potato
· Silver beet & spinach
What are some hearty winter meal ideas?
- Soups and stews – When the weather cools down soups and stews are an easy and nutritious way to get a variety of vegetables into your diet. You can also add in a source of protein and legumes to create a well-balanced hearty meal.
- Vegetable bakes - An easy and delicious one pan meal for the family and a great way to get in a good serve of vegetables.
- Casseroles – A great way to use seasonal vegetables such as sweet potatoes and cauliflower. An easy and convenient meal for the family.
- Cottage pie – A great way to get in a good mix of protein and vegetables – if you’re after a lower carb version, try using cauliflower mash instead of potatoes.
- Carr A, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211.
- Delayed Ripening Technology | ISAAA.org [Internet]. Isaaa.org. 2022 [cited 27 June 2022]. Available from: https://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/12/default.asp#:~:text=Normally%2C%20farmers%20pick%20their%20produce,prevent%20damage%20and%20delay%20ripening.