Seasonal foods or local foods have gained tremendous attention in the last few decades, due to the increasing awareness amongst people.
These foods are indigenous to a particular area and available seasonally, for example Alphonso Mango from India, which is available during the months of April-June; Kiwi fruit from China, Tomato from South America. Let’s know more about how beneficial these seasonal foods are…
Reduction in Carbon Footprint
Now how is that happening? As produce is locally available the need for transportation and storage is reduced hence, less pollution and emission of gases. Harvests are grown off-season in green-houses which in turn contribute to heavy emission of gases like Carbon-dioxide and Methane by increasing carbon footprint and expenditure of energy.
Additionally, storage of harvests for the purpose of export on a global scale too requires high energy costs in transportation, cold storage, storage of harvest at supply chain led inventories.
Storage of fruits and vegetables at government led cold house
Foods produced locally are healthier, tastier, and fresher compared to one’s that are artificially ripened using Ethylene or the ones refrigerated and available all-round the year. Nature has been kind enough to bless us with variety of fruits and vegetables based on the seasons for instance, summers are served with Melons, Cucumbers, Stone fruits like Peach, Lychee, Mango, and Plum are high in water and pigments like carotenoids which keeps us hydrated and saves from sun damage.
Winters are charged with Citrus fruits like Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, as these fruits are rich in Vitamin C which helps fight cold and flu. Vegetables like Carrot, Asparagus, Peas, and Beans are available in winter which can be comforting in preparations like soups and stews.
Demand and Supply
Harvesting locally grown crops reduces the cost of production incurred by the farmers, and in turn the food has travelled fewer miles to reach your plate. Hence, helps farmers in saving huge bucks on transportation and storage.
Vendors sorting mangoes in local markets after procurement of harvest from farms
Cheaper, Healthier and Tastier, Why?
Previously we talked about, how farmers can save money by abundantly using the natural cycle and soil to harvest seasonal crops. This makes seasonal foods cheaper compared to the non-seasonal foods. The crops (fruits and vegetables) are harvested at the very peak of its ripening stage to provide us with the highest flavour and nutritional value.
Muskmelons sold in the months of summer at local markets
Transportation of foods over long miles affects its flavour, appearance, stage of ripening and loss of bioactive compounds.
Some vendors use chemicals and gases like Ethylene, Calcium Carbide and 1-MCP (Methylcyclopropene) to artificially ripen the harvest for exporting their produce, which affects the flavour and texture of the fruit to a higher degree.
Reconnecting to Our Roots
Since the dawn of civilization, people strictly consumed local produce; were true to their roots, and led a healthy lifestyle.
Looking back in time, we realise our diet was designed based on our geographical location hence, our body feels invigorated when connected to our roots (When you are closer to your home and home grown food!).
In conclusion, due to the advent of globalization we are lucky to receive crops (Fruits, Vegetables, and Pulses) all round the year.
This is possible due to advancements in storage, transportation and supply chain management in developed countries, but at the cost of higher energy expenses, land change (change of crops) which causes loss of biodiversity; additionally excessive usage of pesticides and insecticides causes loss of natural fauna in the soil.
We are losing species of crops and biodiversity of certain areas due to rotation of crops over the years. Thus, we all can take a step forward to uplift our farmers by supporting local produce, and start our own Local Food Movement or locavores at our locality.
Make an effort to make this planet a better place to live!
Authors: Debomitra Dey & Soniya Katekar
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