There is something exciting about eating different fruits and vegetables every season. As a child I knew that with the start of summer we would start getting cherries (in Romania cherries were the first ones to ripe),followed by strawberries and just a bit later raspberries and blueberries. Nowadays in supermarkets you can get almost anything at any time. While that might be great from a flexibility perspective, there might be many more benefits to eating in season beyond just giving variation to your menu.
4 benefits of eating food that is in season
1. Foods that are eaten in season just taste so much better. Everyone must have experienced the difference between strawberries grown and picked at the right time when they have naturally ripen in your local country and strawberries that have travelled for miles from a different country. I have just received in my weekly fruit and veg box some British strawberries (hence this example celebrates this particular fruit) and you will just have to imagine not just the sweet flavour but also the incredible smell that filled my entire fridge. The reason behind this is that food that comes from a different country, although might be at the peak of their season are picked much earlier and then chilled so they don’t spoil while travelling. Chilling will always reduce the flavour while early picking will make it far more acidic and heavier for our digestive system to break down. Furthermore, before the fresh food hits our shelves they will exposed to heat to artificially ripen which will affect taste as well as texture. The best example for this is tomatoes which sometimes are just without taste and a far cry from those plum, juicy less acidic tomatoes we eat when abroad in Spain or Italy.
2. Food in season has potentially higher nutritional value. Firstly, picking food when it’s not fully ripe will make it far more acidic and will put your digestive system under strain. Raw food is one of the most difficult to digest (even if it is ripe). Unripe food is even more difficult to digest, will stay in your digestive system for longer and is more exposed to fermentation, leaving you with bad cramps due to the gas released. As minerals are transported from the water in the soil to the plant, the longer it is allowed to have this access the more these minerals will get the actual fruit or vegetable. In addition, most fruits and vegetables see an increase in vitamin levels as they ripen. Secondly, chilling and storing fresh food for longer period of time has a direct impact on the availability of nutrients like vitamin B5, folic acid and zinc which otherwise are easily lost. Other methods of preservation used are spraying, bleaching and irradiation which although not researched might have an impact on the nutritional value of fresh food.
3. It is more sustainable as the distance travelled to get the fresh fruits on shelf is shorter which means the impact of CO2 is considerable less.
4. Eating foods in season reduced the demand for overseas fruit and veg which in turn supports the local producers and the local economy.
Eating in season is not always possible, but I am definitely more tuned in on how far the food has travelled. However it doesn’t need to be a burden. British food is always easily available in supermarkets and also represent the main reason why veggie boxes deliveries have thrived so much in the past few years.
A veggie that possibly is not the cool kid in town anymore is the humble broad bean. Some of us possibly haven’t even tried broad beans and boy you guys are missing out. Broad beans are from the same family is peas and are in season in the UK from June to September.
If you are a meat lover, or you a protein gym junkie then this might be one of the veggies for you! It is high in protein as well as fibre. Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, potassium, folate are a few of the minerals and vitamins that these little pods contain. Copper, phosphorus help keep our bones strong, potassium and manganese are essential for our nervous system while folate (or vitamin B9 as it is also known) plays a role in the DNA creation and repair.
Because there is not such a high demand of broad beans you can find them fresh in a handful of supermarkets or for sure they are more popular in food markets. But please don’t let this discourage you. They are a wonderful veggie, popular for British soil and why not add some variety to your summer! Hopefully the recipe below will entice you to try it.
Summery Broad bean bruschetta
1 small rye sourdough bread
350g or 2 large handfuls of (ideally) fresh broad beans in pods
Bunch of fresh dill
1 garlic clove
Juice and zest from half a lemon
200g of fresh sheeps/goats cheese
2 tbps of natural yogurt
Sprouts – I used alfalfa
Cooking and preparation time: 15min
Difficulty: super easy, super quick
Eating in season
The broad bean spread: take the beans out of their pods and steam them for 3 min or until they are soft and a fork can easily pierce through them. I would always steam any vegetables as it is a more gentle cooking process ensuring you are still keeping as much of the vitamins and minerals as possible. If you do not have a steamer just pop them in a metal colander over steaming water and pop a lid on top. There you have your very own home made steamer! After the broad beans have cooked, pop them in a food processor fitted with an S blade, together with the juice and zest of half a lemon, small bunch of dill, garlic clove, salt and glug of olive oil. Whizz for a couple of minutes or until you get a smooth paste. You will love the colour!
Cheese spread: using sheep or goats cheese is a nice variation from your cows cheese. In addition their medium chain fatty acids makes these more easily digestible as well as they content of lactose is smaller so people that have a small lactose intolerance might be able to tolerate this. Mix the fresh cheese with the yogurt, salt, pepper and 1 tbsp of olive oil.
Cut the rye sourdough in 2 cm slices and put them on a hot griddle pan or in a toaster. Spread first the cheese and on top the broad bean spread. Top up with a few slices of chilli (this is optional) and a few sprouts for an extra fresh crunch and kick of vitamin K. This vitamin will help ensure the calcium in the cheese is being bound in bones and other tissues.