Seasonal eating has been a part of traditional Indian culinary practices for centuries but with the advancement in technology, produce is available all year round. However, consuming ingredients when in season has multiple benefits.
With the conversations around the importance of celebrating regional cuisines and local produce expands our horizons, it is important to acknowledge that eating what was cultivated and available locally, was always an inherent part of Indian food traditions. With changing seasons and geographies, food was meant to not just be a medium of nourishment, but also fortify our bodies against seasonal infections and keep us warm or cool, based on the weather.
From uncultivated wild greens in the monsoon to pickling and fermenting ingredients in the summer, food has been utilised as a means for communal preservation and surpass social boundaries. As an agriculture-based economy, we’re aware of the benefits of cultivating our own food and sourcing it as close to where it has been grown, as possible. Environmental consequences apart, what matters first, is how good something tastes when you eat it; and also how much nutritional value one can derive from this kind of eating. Here are five reasons shedding light on the importance of eating hyperlocal, seasonal produce.
Higher Nutritional Value
Most of our main food supply chains rely on sourcing fruits, vegetables and grains from places that aren’t in close proximity to our urban settlements. Hence, eating what’s in season has a direct effect on our hormonal balance, everyday habits as well as the kind of food choices we make for ourselves. When seasons change, our bodies adapt to the immediate climates and require as much nutrition as possible, to help us revel in a state of constant well-being.
Improved Gut Health
Scientifically speaking, the human gut and the soil in which our crops grow, contain the same percentage of active micro-organisms. However, the diversity of these micro-organisms in the human gut average at about 10%, compared to fertile soil. As we evolved, there has been a reduced value in the diversity, all thanks to our exposure to fast food and imbalanced meals. Eating in season not only helps us harness more vitamins and minerals for our bodies, but also adds plenty of fibre to our diets, making it ideal for smooth digestion and a light stomach.
The joy of sinking your teeth into a juicy mango during the summer is unmatched! As is enjoying fresh strawberries and cream during the winter. Simply put, the more we consume produce that is in season, the better we’re able to enjoy it. For example, watermelons are available all year round, however, the sweet pink pulp of the fruit is at its peak flavour during the summer. Understanding the simple philosophy behind what tastes better isn’t rocket science and can be experienced by just about anyone, willing to keep an open mind and palette.
Buying produce that is in season, is a lot cheaper than trying to source ingredients that are imported or hard to find. Not only do they put a strain on your wallets, they also deprive our farmers of the opportunity of making their dues, in exchange for all the hard work. When you opt for seasonal fruits or vegetables, it helps to strengthen the local economy and support smaller farms and retailers. Often times, produce that is available in supermarkets are not always in their peak form, often being harvested before they can be ready so that they’re still fresh when transported. Choosing options closer to home, helps eliminate or limit these occurrences.
As we all know, the food we have access to in grocery stores, vegetable markets and delivery services, travel great distances to reach our kitchens. Moreover, fresh, perishable produce must be stabilized in temperature-control environments to retain their freshness. To add to this, packaging materials use cardboard, plastic and other materials that end up in landfills, once discarded. Most importantly, food that is cultivated when not in season, emits a higher amount of greenhouse gases into the environment, increasing overall temperatures. Purchasing produce that is grown locally, helps eliminate all of the above.