Thanks to the convenience of supermarkets and the wonders of global transportation, most of us have lost touch with the idea of eating seasonally. Most fruit and vegetables are now available year-round, and many of us would struggle to name the peak growing seasons for particular foods.
But there is a lot to love about eating with the seasons. Food tastes better, is more likely to have been grown locally and be fresher (i.e. not shipped thousands of kilometres to get to you) and therefore will have more of its goodness and nutrients intact.
Tyalgum organic farmers Rod and Tania Bruin, of Summit Organics, say eating seasonally also creates a sense of anticipation for new seasons, and increases your appreciation of food.
“It brings some excitement back into your weekly vegetable shop: “You think: ‘Ooh, it’s tomato season again!’, or ‘When will coriander be available?’ or ‘What seasonal veggies can I cook with this week?’” said Tania.
For Rod and Tania, whose philosophy is “healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy people and a healthier planet”, eating in season also means growing in season. Growing crops during their natural season are likely to be stronger, healthier and need fewer interventions like chemicals and fungicides.
Of course, it can be a challenge to change consumer habits, especially when people are faced with unfamiliar foods. For example, leafy greens are one of Summit’s best sellers at the farmers markets, but in our hot and humid summer months, it’s tough to grow varieties like kale, lettuce, English spinach and silver beet. At this time of the year, Rod and Tania replace these with more exotic, lesser-known leafy greens like Kang Kong (Chinese water spinach), Ceylon spinach and Egyptian Spinach – just as tasty and healthy as many other leafy greens – but are much better suited to hot subtropical conditions. Teaching people how to use these more unfamiliar greens often takes time, but the pay offs are worth it. People try something they wouldn’t normally eat (and enjoy the health benefits of the plant at its peak), there is no struggle on the farm to grow something out of season, and food miles are reduced dramatically,
“Fruits and vegetables were never meant to be available year round,” said Tania.
“Our regular customers are used to these seasonal changes now and they come to love and enjoy them.”
Autumn/winter is the biggest growing season for Summit Organics and many other farmers in our region. Fruit and vegies Rod and Tania are growing now and will have available during winter include • kale •silver beet •cauliflower •broccoli • carrot •beetroot •pumpkin •sweet potato • celery •shallots • coriander •parsley.