For thousands of years, food has been moved around the world. The Silk Road is renowned in history as an ancient trade route linking China and India, which carried food between the two great civilizations of Rome and China.
After World War II, modern transportation boomed, and suburban housing developments spread across the American landscape. Grocery stores changed the first world, providing customers with cart-loads of food, sometimes from hundreds of miles away.
Today, it can be challenging to consider eating seasonally because we’re spoiled by convenience. We have access to produce shipped year-round from all over the world. But eating seasonally still has many benefits you might be missing out on!
It tastes better
When fruits and veggies are harvested at the right time, after naturally ripening on the tree or vine, they have much more nutrition and flavor. Often when crops are transported, they need to be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t spoil during transportation – chilling reduces their flavor. Think unappetizing apples, bland berries, or tasteless tomatoes.
It encourages a varied diet
Instead of eating the same small set of fruits and veggies all year, eating seasonally helps you branch out and gives you important vitamins and minerals that you might not usually get.
It supports local
Buying locally grown seasonal foods helps support the local economy. The money you spend on local growers and farmers stays in the community and is reinvested with other local businesses.
It avoids overseas contaminants
Overseas agricultural systems don’t always require testing of soil and water quality. Also, produce that’s flown in from overseas is often bleached, irradiated, and sprayed with chemicals to withstand quarantine and long travel periods.
It’s more environmentally-friendly
Growing food outside of its natural season is only possible when humans create seasonal weather conditions artificially. Massive amounts of water and nonrenewable energy are needed to do this, but seasonal growing doesn’t need the same resources. For example, summer crops only need heat from the sun during summer, but during winter, the summer heat needs to be recreated artificially, which burns fossil fuels.
Here are some of our favorite ways to eat more seasonally at Down to Earth:
Look for our “local” labels in our produce departments
See what’s in season with this Hawai'i seasonality chart
Try new fruits and veggies that are in season
Find recipes for unfamiliar local and seasonal produce in our recipe database.
Remember, eating seasonally is a nutritious, delicious way to make every bite count!