When it comes to your weekly grocery shop, why is choosing food that’s in season so important and which ones are currently having their moment in the sun?
With far-reaching implications both on our health and environment, we asked nutritionist and Get The Gloss Expert Gabriela Peacock for her top tips and healthy eating facts when it comes to in season shopping. From the foods we should be adding to our lists come snow or shine to the benefits of a greener diet, her guidance makes for great nutrition know-how for making the most of our trips down the supermarket aisles.
1. The environmental impact
“Buying local and eating seasonal foods should be the foundation for our diets,” explains Gabriela. “We have become accustomed to this fast food culture which tells us that food should be cheap. It's not really the case when you consider the environmental costs (such as water and transportation), that goes into growing certain groups and filling our shelves with foods that are out of season. There are important global implications beyond price, for example how quickly we can get tropical fruits to eat while it's snowing outside!
“By eating seasonally, you actually look forward to certain foods the following year that taste so much better too. Eating local, seasonal food means the money goes back to nearby farmers who get a fair price.”
2. A better flavour fix
By selecting foods that are at their prime, our weekly menu plans can also look to benefit from both nutritional and taste perspectives too. “Aside from the benefits to the environment and producers, the foods taste better, are fresher and more flavoursome and are often cheaper when they are in season,” says Gabriela. “Seasonal foods won't have travelled very far - from farm to fork - and so are more nutritious too.”
3. Culinary inspiration
Feeling like you’re in a cooking rut? Branching out and shopping for foods that you wouldn’t normally buy could provide the perfect opportunity to let your culinary juices flow. “By shopping for foods in season, you are more likely to try something new or experiment with new ingredients and recipes that you may not usually try,” explains Gabriela.
4. Smarter shopping
So where’s best to find the freshest ingredients? “Go to farmers markets or even try and grow your own at home. All you need is a few large tubs for tomatoes and beans in your own garden - herbs can grow successfully on a window sill!” recommends Gabriela. “Going to local markets means you get to talk to the producers too,” she adds.
5. Reality bites
As good as our intentions may be, there will almost certainly be times when life gets in the way and buying in season foods will not be a viable option. So what can we do to ensure that we’re eating produce that is still as nutritionally beneficial as possible? “Shop organic where possible, choose grass-fed meat, MSC certified fish, wild salmon etc.,” suggests Gabriela. “Watch how you cook foods - avoid frying or using lots of oil when roasting, instead try grilling or steaming and watch out for any added ingredients that might be a sneaky disguise for sugar/salt/other nasties.”
6. Your in-season hit-list
For the foods that are at their best at any time of year, check out Gabriela’s go-to in season healthy food guide:
What to eat
Beetroot, apples, sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chicken, beef.
Watercress, lamb, chicken, cod, crab, grapefruit.
Apricot, asparagus, aubergine, berries, courgette, crab, nectarine, peaches, tuna, tomato.
Venison, turnip, tomato, aubergine, broccoli.
7. What to eat now
Feeling inspired? There’s no better than the present to give your weekly food shop a dose of seasonal savvy. “February and March see the arrival of purple sprouting broccoli, broad beans, rhubarb plus other classics such as cauliflower, celeriac, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, salsify, shallots, swede and truffles. Mackerel - one of my favourite oily fish is also in season soon.”