Since this blog was created to promote goods that we grow or buy in season, I thought I should give good reasons why we should purchase our produce seasonally so you know what all the fuss is about.
Let's start with obvious ….. $ ching-ching
It’s that same ol’ story of supply and demand. When something is in season, there is an abundance of the product so the cost is lower than when out of season when the demand is high. When an item is coming into the season, you can see the price slightly drop so if you are unsure if something is in season, the price can usually tell you.
Quality is Key
The quality of the fruit and vegetable is of utmost importance to us, sometimes more so than the cost. When looking for what is on the shopping list, we search through what is available and pick the item that has the most colour, less blemishes, fragrant smell and the right amount of ripeness that we need. This all contributes to the juicey delicious taste when we bite into that apricot, or toss that tomato in a garden salad.
If we choose to buy what is not in season, there are usually black spots, wilted, barely any colour and lacking in flavour due to the hothouse they were grown in, then harvested too early for transport and refrigerated so it doesn’t rot. This procedure effects the natural ripening of the fruit and vegetable which in turn, effects the end product.
Supporting Local Farmers
Some argue that buying from local farmers markets are more expensive than visiting your commercial food stores. I find this interesting because I go to my local market with a $50 note, fill my basket with the fruit and vegetable that I need for that week and come home with change. Granted, it is just for me and not a family of 4, doesn’t include meat, seafood, nuts, seeds and the like but when there is something that sold out from the market and I need to visit a store, there doesn’t seem to be much change left in the purse at all.
We need to consider commercial stores and their overheads that they need to build into their prices.
Rent: where they are located is usually in a shopping centre so rent must be paid to the centre.
Storage: buying in bulk may be cheaper but they need to store is somewhere before it hits the shelves (refer to above point about quality and taste!)
Export: Australia is slowly getting a little better in their labelling when it comes to Australian grown and produced, which I touched on in an earlier blog, however when buying out of season, there is a good chance the produce you are munching on is from offshore countries and goodness knows the quality control in that specific country. So food stores not only build export and transport costs into their end price but they do not have control over how their purchases are grown and transported.
Mix it Up
The beauty of seasonal produce is that you have variety all year round. Try different recipes using what is in season or if you are a meat and 3 vege type of person, you have different vegetables to accompany your piece of protein.
Where did the goodness go?
When products are harvested early for refrigeration and transportation, they are not given the length of time to produce the full complement of nutrients that our bodies require. If we have bought the product from a local farmer, who knows the best time to harvest, not to mention is usually harvesting a short time before market day (within the same week or even the day before), then the nutrients have flourished with the fruit and vegetable – without the need for early harvest, refrigeration, waxing for storage and colour enhancement and goodness know what else.
Communication is Common sense
When visiting a local farmer or market, the chances of the actual farmer, or family or the in-the-paddock staff are the ones that will be passing over freshly harvested produce. This is perfect because you can ask whatever questions you like and get the answer straight from the horses mouth – as they say. I have a favourite farm that I buy my vege from at Randwick Farmers Market and I asked them about pesticides. This is a family run and owned farm and low and behold, the passionate teenage son was the one to answer, not the hard working father who had a big grin from ear to ear hearing his son answer honestly and without hesitation.
If I asked a staffer at the local food store – they wouldn’t have a clue! They would know what they put on the fruit and vegetable though……but I won’t go into that, it’s probably for a Current Affair program ;)
Buying locally and direct from the paddock is a no brainer if possible. There are an abundance of door-to-door services that can cater for those that do not have access to local farmers or markets and I’m not talking about food store’s home delivery. Again, even with these companies, do a bit of research and check reviews because it may all be marketing without the back-bone of wholesome goodness.
This month there is a variety of delicious fruit in season for that summer fruit salad however I thought I’d share a recipe I’ve made a number of times because although it is very un-Australian of me that I don’t like beetroot, I don’t mind a bit of beetroot hummus. Try it and let me know what you think.
Stay Active in the Season you are in.
By Chef Pete Evans
(Healthy Every Day cookbook)
Makes about 500ml
500g fresh beetroot
3T unhulled tahini
1 garlic clove
2T extra-virgin olive oil
2T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1T organic apple cider vinegar
2t ground cumin
½t sea salt
Preheat oven to 200°C
Wrap the beetroot in foil and roast in the oven for 30-40minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool.
When cool enough to handle, peel skin off and roughly chop.
Place the beetroot in a food processor with all the other ingredients. Process until smooth.
Transfer to a bowl, adjust the seasoning and serve with raw vegetables and seed crackers.
Store in fridge for upto 5 days.