Ask any gardener how their produce compares to store bought and they're likely to tell you that there is no comparison. Remove all that grow-and-tell pride and there's still a remarkable difference in the taste and nutrients of something that was grown to full ripeness and picked fresh. In fact, store bought varieties are often either picked before ready and allowed to ripen on their journey to your grocer, or they're picked and preserved up to months on end in low oxygen storage so as to keep from spoiling. And for that reason, fresh is always best.
Understandably, we may not be able to control the time between when it was picked and when it ends up on your table, at least directly anyway. We have much more control over the distance the food travels to get to your table.
But a self-sustaining garden may be a lofty idea. That doesn't mean you can't eat local though. And eating food that was grown locally gives you a better chance of eating it at its peak freshness (when the nutrients are still in tact). Since deterioration starts as soon as crops are harvested, homegrown and locally grown produce that gets to your table fast offer more nutrients than produce that travels over time and distance. In fact, vitamins and antioxidants in some types of produce may be more than 100 percent higher in local crops versus imported ones.
Besides the health benefits you can gain by eating in season, seasonal foods typically taste better. Plus, foods that are produced in season are better for the environment and easier on your wallet.
Better for your health
Foods that are grown and consumed during their appropriate seasons are more nutritionally dense. In a study monitoring the vitamin C content of broccoli, it was found that broccoli grown during its peak season had a higher vitamin C content than broccoli grown during the spring.
Better for the environment
Stop in at local farmers market and you'll be able to figure out what's in season near you. So eating those foods means that they didn't have to travel as far to get to you. The associated fuel emissions and transportation costs are minimal (hint: those costs aren't passed on to you, either).
Better for your wallet
Think back to Economics 101. Remember supply and demand? When a fruit or vegetable is in season, there is typically an abundance of it. That in turn brings the price down. Better yet? If you grow your own, the associated costs to produce that food are even lower, and your plants will help you determine what's in season.
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