As the days draw in, our menus look to an incredible abundance of Autumnal produce. From jammy figs to earthy beetroots, October spoils us. But beyond seasonal eating's obvious benefits - better flavour, optimum freshness, superior quality - what wider-reaching value does it bring? Can a team that prioritises mindful, seasonal eating have the power to make a contribution to the community and, even better, our planet?
When we eat in accordance with the seasons, it benefits:
We all know that a balanced diet packed full of fresh fruit and veg is good for our health. But, if we're willing to go a step further and look at how, when and where our food is grown, it could actually bring far greater health benefits.
The ancient Indian practice of ayurveda has a special term for eating seasonally: ritucharya. Ritucharya maintains that seasonal eating is vital for our health and disease prevention; stipulating that lifestyle diseases are a result of a poor relationship between people and environment.
Research shows that food grown and consumed during the appropriate seasons is more nutritionally dense than food that is shipped in, kept in storage and farmed intensively using ripening agents. According to this study, broccoli grown in-season contained twice as much Vitamin C as broccoli grown out of season - proof that a small, mindful buying decision could see the health value of what's on our plate's double.
Not only does the consumption of in-season food have inherent nutritional advantages, but seasonal eating also encourages variety in our diet. When we look to the seasons to inform our fruit and vegetable intake, we benefit from a diversity of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients. Nutrition we would miss by sticking to the same produce year-round.
Nearly half of what we eat is shipped or flown into the UK from abroad. Our hyper-convenient global food system comes at a massive carbon cost to our planet, something we can combat by prioritising seasonality and locality in our food.
When we choose to buy in-season produce, we keep our food miles to a minimum, while relying far less on food produced using intensive agricultural practices. Intensive farming is responsible for loss of wildlife, soil degradation, excessive chemical use and high greenhouse gas emissions.
As an example, take apples and bananas in a supermarket. Both are equally available all year round. But, when we choose to buy an apple grown at a farm 20 miles away over a banana shipped 5,000 miles from a commercial plantation, our 5-second decision brings a huge environmental saving.
Read about the Journey of Bananas here.
3. Community & Connection
By switching to local, seasonal food, we increase local demand. By increasing demand, we strengthen our local food system while actively growing our local economy. Keeping money flowing through our communities has a multiplier effect, meaning it contributes to increased income and employment, which builds happier, healthier, stronger communities.
And from a more holistic perspective, when we have a connection to where our food has come from - maybe we even had a conversation with farmer who grew it at the local farmer's market - we cherish it. We take more enjoyment in preparing and eating it, and are far less likely to waste it. Finding joy in our food gives us a sense of connection to place and the people within it.
Our workplace food solutions.
At CANTEEN, our lunches make seasonal eating exciting and accessible for your team. From our WFH Lunch Club to our in-office Fridge Fills, we have solutions to suit all different business types. Get in touch to discuss how we could support your Edinburgh team with fresh food.