Why eat seasonally?
Food that is seasonal is fresher and tends to be more nutritious and tastier. The best time to eat fruit and vegetables is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest. Out of season produce is often harvested early in order to be shipped and distributed to food stores.
Crops picked at their peak of ripeness taste better and are full of flavour. Many studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when they have been allowed to ripen naturally on their parent plant. The seasonal fruit and vegetables produced on local farms are also fresher as they do not require long distances for transport.
Why eat fresh organic food?
Fresh, organic, free range foods are usually the most nutritious. Fresh food contains a higher percentage of enzymes, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Organic means working with nature. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides, no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers and more environmentally sustainable management of the land and natural environment, which also means more wildlife.
Peer reviewed research, a ‘meta-analysis’ of 343 previous studies by Newcastle University, was published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Volume 112, Issue 514 September 2014 , pp. 794-811). It found significant differences between organic and non-organic farming. Organic crops are found to be of a much higher nutritional quality than their non-organic counterparts.
The research showed that there are between 18% and 69% more antioxidants (molecules that neutralise free radicals, unstable molecules that can harm your cells) in food produced using organic methods compared with non-organic methods. It also showed that choosing organically produced foods can lead to a reduced intake of the potentially harmful toxic heavy metal cadmium (48% lower concentrations were detected) and pesticides. The frequency of occurrence of detectable pesticide residues is four times higher in non-organic crops. Non-organic fruit had the highest pesticide frequency (75%), compared to non-organic vegetables (32%).
By contrast pesticide residues were found in 10% of organic crop samples. A staggering 320 pesticides can be routinely used in non- organic farming and these are often present in non-organic food.
Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (Volume 115, Issue 628 March 2016 , pp. 994-1011) shows organic milk and meat contain around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic. Omega-3 fatty acids are fatty acids that the body cannot make or has limited capacity to make so we must get them through the foods we eat. They’re needed for the normal, healthy functioning of cells and various body processes.
In addition to organic milk and meat, the nutritional differences also apply to organic dairy like butter, cream, cheese and yoghurt. Evidence from controlled experimental studies indicates that the high grazing/forage-based diets prescribed under organic farming standards may be the main reason for differences in fatty acid profiles.
Why eat locally?
Low carbon footprint eating is essential as the time taken from land or sea to plate is paramount when aiming for high quality fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. The longer the food is removed from its original source, the greater the loss of nutrients. By eating locally grown foods, you can support local farms and maintain farmland and the open space around you. Food grown locally and distributed locally generates jobs and subsequently helps stimulate local economies. Local growers can tell you how the food was grown – you have the opportunity to ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops and animals. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about your food – you can ensure that it has been produced following organic farming methods.