Yep, you should always buy seasonal food. Why? Because it’s one of the biggest investments you can make for your health.
In fact, it’s how our ancestors used to eat because they had no choice, and some experts claim that it helps to balance the body’s entire energy system, while reducing illness. I’ve always been so proud of SA’s abundant seasonal food. From a wide range of fruits and veggies to healthy grains and local dairy products – we’re really spoilt for choice, this side of the equator! So why buy expensive imported goods when everything you need is right on your doorstep.
Here are just a few reasons why it’s a very good idea to buy seasonal food:
It’s much more cost-effective to buy seasonal foods when they’re at their most plentiful and easier to grow and harvest. The minute food is rare and hard to find, it becomes more expensive. For instance, if you look for red or white grapes in winter, they’re bound to be imported from overseas and this automatically shoots the price up due to the cost of transporting, import duties, cold storage and shelf space.
It’s healthier for you and the planet
When I practise mindful eating (See my blog post about it here) I find that I automatically crave fruits and veggies in season. It’s like my body knows just what it needs to boost my immune system and stay healthy. And this is true for all of us. Staying in tune with your body and eating appropriate seasonal foods will provide more energy and balance. For example, the body naturally craves warm veggie soups and stews with fresh herbs and spices in winter, while spring and summer months often call for cooler salads and fresh, raw ingredients.
Additionally, seasonal foods are packed with more nutrients (and fewer preservatives) because they don’t have to endure longer travel and storage times – where vital nutrients are often lost. Farm to plate is the way to go!
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Have you ever bitten into a fresh tomato or eaten a ripe avocado off the farm? I have, and that’s where my real appreciation for fruits and veggies began. In fact, when I’m in Durban, one of my favourite things to do with my family is go strawberry picking. There’s nothing tastier and more satisfying than cooking with fresh, local ingredients you can eat soon after they’ve been picked. Foods which have the chance to grow in their natural environment, in the right soil with minimal interference is by far the tastiest. Need I say more?
Imported foods with an extended shelf life can make you sick, end of story. Why? Because they’re often loaded with chemicals and preservatives to keep them looking their best- which isn’t really the way we should eat. To make these foods look more appealing, they’re often given chemical ripening agents, wax coatings, and other nasty preservatives. Seasonal eating greatly reduces the need for these practices, while keeping you healthy and happy.
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One of my top tips: Because most foods are available year-round ( I often see oranges or naartjies in summer!) choosing what’s in season can be confusing. When I shop, I always look for fresh, ripe produce that’s sold in abundance and I check with my local farmers to get location-specific assistance for each season.
Where to shop
The best place to shop for seasonal foods is at your local farmer’s market. My team and I were recently invited to shop at the incredible Food Lover’s Market in Hillcrest for an intensive foodie shoot we were doing, and we were blown away by the sheer variety of fresh, local produce on offer. The owner Maria and her husband are extremely passionate foodies themselves and have created a good old-fashioned, farm-style store which makes you feel as though you’re shopping at a traditional food market, except it’s right in the heart of Hillcrest (which is super-convenient). We spent ages in the beautiful store – hunting for all the ingredients we needed for our shoot, and we couldn’t have wished for a better shopping experience, all under one roof.
When we put together food shoots for some of my upcoming wellness programmes, a lot of effort goes into creating the recipes. We also test them and tweak them all before the final shoot so that we know we’re bringing you the best. The perk of a long day on your feet? Eating all that food of course. We eat like kings over the shoot days – taking home leftovers for dinner as well. And I was so pleased when Maria from this exceptional Food Lover’s store came on board for a healthy initiative like this. Have we made a bunch of delicious, chocolatey desserts as well? You bet we have! Balance makes perfect, after all. Watch this space for the amazing recipes we have lined up for you in 2018.
For more information on the Food Lover’s concept, as well as what’s available at the Hillcrest store, visit their website: www.foodloversmarket.co.za/stores/hillcrest/