In Harmony with the Seasons: Eating Locally Grown Food
In a world where convenience and year-round availability of food often takes precedence over sustainability, the concept of seasonal production serves as a refreshing reminder of the beauty and benefits that nature provides. This practice supports local agriculture, encourages sustainability, and delivers unparalleled flavours and nutritional benefits to the consumers.
The modern food chain has increasingly relied on a range of imported foods ‘flown into your supermarket from all around the world. This means that ‘we can obtain most of what we want to eat anytime we want it—strawberries in winter, cucumbers in fall, and apples almost all year round’ (M. Kadey, 2022). We have become accustomed to buying the same fruits and vegetables in any season. ‘But all produce has a traditional growing season, even bananas and mangos.’
We can define two types of seasonality:
· Globally seasonal food - produced in the natural production season but consumed anywhere in the world.
· Locally seasonal food - produced in the natural production season and consumed within the same climatic zone.
It is undeniable that eating whatever we want all year round is convenient. However, fruit and vegetables imported into our countries outside the natural production season travel long distances before reaching our plates. Often, they are harvested (too) early and stored at low temperatures to avoid rotting before their arrival at the destination countries. They may be treated to remain fresh for a longer time.
This is easily noticeable with strawberries, for instance: when these delicious berries ripen in springtime and come from local farms, they taste remarkably sweeter and juicier than the imported fruit coming from abroad and often grown in greenhouses.
There are numerous reasons to harmonise our eating habits with the cycles of nature:
· Fresher and Tastier Food
As mentioned above, locally produced food is typically harvested at its peak ripeness and delivered to consumers more quickly. This also means that it retains its freshness, flavour, and nutritional value. Local produce does not require extended periods of cold storage or lengthy transportation, resulting in better-tasting fruits, vegetables, and other products.
· Support for Local Economy
Buying local food supports local farmers and growers. It helps sustain local businesses, boosts the local economy, and encourages job creation within the community. The money spent on local food remains within the region where it was produced, contributing to the overall prosperity of the area.
· Environmental Sustainability
Choosing local food reduces the environmental impact associated with long-distance transport and extensive packaging. Delivering food within shorter distances requires less fuel for transport, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduced carbon footprint. Additionally, supporting local farms promotes the preservation of open spaces and farmland, contributing to the conservation of natural habitats.
· Preserving Agricultural Diversity
Embracing local food helps preserve agricultural diversity. By supporting small-scale farmers and local food producers, we contribute to the maintenance of traditional and heirloom crop varieties. This helps prevent the loss of agricultural biodiversity and ensures a wider range of flavourful and nutritious food options for future generations.
· Food Security and Resilience
Relying on local food sources enhances food security and resilience against external disruptions. During times of crisis and/or supply chain disruptions, local food systems are more adaptable and provide a more reliable food supply than wider or international ones. Strengthening local food networks and reducing dependence on distant sources improves community resilience; besides, it ensures access to essential nutrition.
· Connection to Nature
Through the promotion of seasonal eating, local food contributes to establishing a much-needed connection between people and nature. It allows individuals to appreciate the unique flavours and nutritional benefits of each season's harvest. Buying and eating seasonal produce, we reconnect with the natural rhythms of the environment and enjoy a varied diet throughout the year.
· Transparency and Traceability
Local food systems often offer greater transparency and traceability. Consumers can interact directly with farmers, gaining insights into farming practices, animal welfare, and food production methods. This relationship fosters trust and confidence, empowering individuals to make informed choices about their diet and wellbeing.
Farmer Charlie assists farmers, notably smallholder rural farmers or urban farmers owning allotments and vegetable gardens, to organise their activities effectively and efficiently at a competitive cost. It provides data and connectivity to monitor soil values, receive information on weather conditions, and more to facilitate farming decisions and management.
For more information about the benefits of Farmer Charlie (FC) for your farm, allotment, or vegetable garden, please e-mail our team: firstname.lastname@example.org.