Today our supermarkets offer such a wide variety of fresh food that we have got into the habit of being able to buy whatever we like, whenever we like. So strawberries in January or pineapple in November doesn’t seem unusual nowadays, but do you know when fruits and vegetables are really in season?
This seasonal food calendar will help you shop smarter – and save money!
Why is a Seasonal Food Calendar Important?
If you are like me and feel like you’ve lost touch with what fruit and veg are in season and when, then Stop Food Waste have produced a handy Seasonal Food calendar that you can download and check in on every month.
Eating foods that are locally produced and in season can reduce the overall environmental impact of what we eat. These days, large food producers can grow food all year round which means supermarkets are not a very good indicator of what’s truly in season.
That’s where a seasonal food calendar can be very handy, telling you what’s in season each month.
If you need even more of an incentive, by shopping seasonally you can actually save yourself money too. But why buy seasonally? Why does it even matter?
It Tastes Better
Fruit and vegetables that are in season tend to be fresher and taste better. Think about this, in order to get a particular fruit to supermarkets, given the picking-to-shipping-to-delivery time, it needs to be harvested early and then refrigerated on its journey. Then sometimes the items are heated again on arrival to artificially ripen them.
When you buy something naturally ripened and harvested at the right time, there’s bound to be more flavour.
You’ll know this from having tasted e.g. tomatoes when on holiday somewhere that grows them locally, like Spain or Italy.
You Know Its Provenance
When you buy locally and in season you are avoiding scenarios of imported fruit or vegetables from another country which might have different rules on pesticides or even hygiene.
It’s Better for the Environment
Now that we are all trying to make small changes to help with climate change, thinking about what you are buying and where it has come from, how far it has travelled is a good thing.
I never used to look at the origin of the apples I was buying but once I started thinking I should buy Irish apples, I couldn’t believe where most of the apples in the supermarkets are coming from, e.g. New Zealand, South Africa, Italy. So it is good to look at where things are travelling from.
Buying locally and seasonally will put you more in touch with what’s growing locally, as well as help avoid those food miles. You’re also supporting local farmers and businesses which is a big bonus.
Waste is Reduced
Food produced and enjoyed locally shortens the supply chain and also there’s much less spoilage during transportation. Also much food is wasted because it fails to meet cosmetic standards of supermarkets.
By shopping locally and even buying directly from the producer, you have an opportunity to buy products which supermarkets may not stock such as “wonky fruit and vegetables”.
It’s Better for You
Fruit and vegetables that are grown and eaten during their appropriate seasons are more nutritionally dense. In fact, research has shown that artificially ripened produce can actually be less nutritious than naturally ripened ones.
Okay okay, the title of this article promised that you can save money by shopping seasonally.
Here’s the main reason why: when farmers are harvesting a huge amount of a particular fruit or vegetable at its seasonal crop time, then the cost of it will go down big time. Also it’s not having to travel or be stored, so those extra costs aren’t there and aren’t being passed along to you.
Our grandparents used to do things like pickle and can things to preserve them beyond the season. We now have freezers that make this even easier.
Buying when things are in season and cheaper, then preserving, pickling or freezing means you’ll have that fruit or veg for later use. This also saves you buying them later at higher prices!
Download This Seasonal Food Calendar
The Stop Food Waste Seasonal Food Calendar tracks the growing season so you’ll know when it’s best to buy Irish produce.
It has a page for each month in a kind of calendar format, that lets you see exactly what is in season that month. It’s colourful and easy to understand as well.
You can download the Calendar here and hopefully this has inspired you to start thinking a bit more about buying seasonally and locally.