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WHY EATING SEASONAL AND LOCAL PRODUCE IS IMPORTANT FOR OUR HEALTH

Updated: Nov 20, 2023




There are so many benefits for you, and for our planet, to eat locally grown food.

Here’s why the quicker it gets to your plate, the better!

Eating fruit and vegetables which have been recently harvested are much more likely to be fresher and more nutritious. This is because they contain important nutrients which will rapidly decline when stored for longer periods of time and they tend to have a reduction in important plant compounds called phytonutrients.

So, what are phytonutrients? These are the natural chemicals found in plants and they have many anti-inflammatory benefits including promoting healthy ageing and boosting the immune system. They also contain antioxidant properties that help prevent damage to cells throughout the body. Several phytonutrients have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.


When fruits and vegetables are sourced overseas you can’t be sure what their regulations for pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are. Many countries across the globe have very relaxed laws about chemicals being sprayed on fruits and vegetables that other countries have banned due to their known harmful effects. Overseas agriculture may not regulate soil contamination tests to ensure land and soil quality.

Large supermarkets may buy out-of-season produce that has been gassed, irradiated (a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preserved in wax to extent the shelf life. For example, produce such as garlic from some countries is bleached and then sprayed with methyl bromide to withstand quarantine and long periods of travel. Leafy, green vegetables are known to have high nutritive value but some of this goodness is lost through time spent in transit. The process of washing and bagging salads also appears to destroy some of their nutrients, although the argument is raging as to whether the modified gas which is used to fill the bags or the chlorine the leaves are washed in is responsible.

When transporting crops, they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t spoil during transportation, but chilling will reduce the flavour. When they get to their destination, they then may need to be heated in a hot house to artificially ripen, which also reduces the flavour and sometimes the texture too! In fact, frozen produce may be even more healthful than some fresh because harvesting and freezing usually takes place at their peak, nutrient-packed ripeness.

Of course, there are environmental reasons too for eating seasonally. It reduces the demand for out of season produce which further supports more local farmed produce which means less transportation, refrigeration, hot houses and irradiation of produce. Nowadays, retailers can source food from wherever it is cheapest globally, so our food is transported further than ever before, often by air. That makes it a major contributor to greenhouse emissions and climate change.

One way of avoiding higher pesticide exposure is to buy organic, locally grown or from farmer’s markets whilst also supporting your local community. When you buy directly from farmers, you can ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. Of course, growing your own is even better as you have complete control. It provides a connection with nature, a family education and cheaper on the pocket too.

Of course, it’s not always possible to eat locally and seasonally all of the time. It’s more about the importance of making decisions where possible that are better for you, your wallet, and your health whenever you can. When you do buy fruit and veg in supermarkets, do wash them. Adding a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to the water and soaking for 10 minutes will produce even better results at removing any toxic substances left behind.


*If you are local to my area (Stockbridge, Hampshire), The Veg Shed on Lockerley Estate grows ecologically produced vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers, grown in the heart of the Test Valley. The Veg Shed offers weekly boxes, without subscription, plus free delivery to neighbouring villages on Wednesdays or for collection from retailers in Romsey and Stockbridge. Please contact hellovegshed@gmail.com for details on what seasonal produce is available and how to order, using this code: RCN1 for 10% off your first order.






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