The buzzword “eating seasonally” has been making the rounds recently. The question is, just what exactly does this mean for the event industry and menu decisions.
Eating seasonally means that you consume fruit and vegetables in season in the region where you reside. In-season means growing in this season, and their natural harvest times coincide with a specific season. Planting times and such is an entirely different matter and a story we will get to later. Fruit in season in America in January may only be in season in the Southern Hemisphere in June or July. Countries also vary slightly in seasonality due to different climates and temperatures during a single season. There is also altitude, ground, all-around weather, and many other small nitty-gritty details to consider.
So why should we be more conscious about the fresh produce we consume and about when we consume it?
Eating Seasonally Is Good For The Environment
We’re used to the idea of having a wide variety of fresh produce at our fingertips at all times. We conveniently forget about all the waste that is produced during the movement and distribution of this plenty. Using a method called the life cycle assessments (LCA’s), researchers can look into and find the environmental impact of growing, harvesting, and distributing fresh produce. This means they look at the supply chain and see the effect of this entire process on the environment.
Using these methods, they have determined that the global food system accounts for about 26% of the world’s carbon emissions. This is because food requires a lot of resources:
- The energy needed to create the right conditions for food to grow in,
- Fertilizers to get as much out of the soil as possible,
- Transporting food across the world can we can enjoy the same produce all year round
- Waste due to rot that occurs during the transport
- Storage of these not yet ripe, but almost ripe foods.
By eating seasonally and locally, many of these issues are solved. The transport is removed from the equation. The energy that goes into manipulating the environment to suit the plant’s needs is detracted, and the fruit and veg are less likely to go off.
Easting Seasonally Is Cheaper
When you enjoy the produce in-season, they’re less likely to be imported. This, of course, means it is cheaper for the grocers to keep it in stock. They have more produce to sell, which will bring down the prices of your beloved goods. This makes the meals you are preparing for your guests and for yourself more economically feasible.
Seasonal Foods Taste Better
Have you ever noticed while biting into a peach in the middle of the winter how it is not as juicy and sweet as you remembered it just a month or two ago?
Well, peaches are a summer fruit. To get this fruit on your doorstep in the middle of the winter, they are picked before they are ripe, so they will survive transportation and can remain in storage for longer. Studies have shown that produce allowed to ripen naturally and at their own pace gather even more flavor during the last few stages of the growing process. Unfortunately, stages of growth that unseasonal fruit and veg don’t have the opportunity to enjoy and utilize.
A Higher Nutritional Value
Many studies have shown that the fruits in-season during a particular time of year provide you with essential nutrients most needed then. Vitamin C in the winter from the citrus fruits to combat flu and colds, stone fruits in the summer to protect against the sun. Eating fruits and vegetables in season allows the body to take in all those small things that it needs to naturally cope with the changes in weather.
Easting Seasonally And The Event Industry
This is all good and well, but how does it impact or contribute to the event industry?
By offering clients and guests a menu that considers the seasonality of fresh produce, you cut down on unnecessary costs. But you can also ensure that the food that is being served is at its most tasty and nutritionally perfect.
So let’s make easting seasonally a little easier with a list of seasonal produce that you can expect to find and enjoy.
Starting with spring, the time when the world begins to wake up after a long slumber. When the birds start to flit around again, and the world transforms with new life. After a long and cold winter, the fresh produce available tend to include:
- Swiss chard
In summer, when the world warms, and the sun shines, many spring fruits stay the same for the turn of the season. There just happen to be a few more berries to enjoy.
- Passion Fruit
- Bell Peppers
In autumn or fall, the fruit and vegetables also turn towards the more hearty.
- Bok Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Capsicum/ Bell peppers
- Spring onion
- Sweet potatoes
After all this, the cold of winter rolls into shock the system and the world changes drastically. Many of the autumnal produce remains with us as we move into the colder season.
- Cactus pear
- Date Plums
- Mandarin Oranges
- Maradol Papaya
- Passion Fruit
- Red banana
- Belgian Endive
- Brussels Sprouts
- Buttercup Squash
- Collard Greens
- Delicata Squash
- Red Currants
- Sweet Dumpling Squash
- Sweet Potatoes
Think Local When Eating Seasonally
Of course, these are only basic lists with many more that can be included in each season. Each state, province, country, and region is different, and your local seasonal fruits and veg will be different too. The best option would be to look up the produce found in your local area and craft unique menus with the added options.