Accomplished chefs, restaurateurs and other food enthusiasts often share the same mindset when it comes to food: seasonal ingredients.
But why? Who cares if I'm using an out of season ingredient in my dish, right? Wrong.
Although there's nothing wrong with buying imported goods, there's a whole lot of good that comes with using only seasonal products. Whether you're making a salad, cooking a Sunday roast or even preparing a freshly squeezed juice, using seasonal ingredients is by far the better option, and we're about to dish the truth.
1. It's Nutritious
If something can grow in its natural state, it's going to harness all of its goodness and flavours. All fruits and vegetables need the right temperatures, soil densities and rainfalls to reach their potential, as that's where the magic is after all. When you use artificial lights, growers or anything else to make something grow out of season, it loses its quality and taste. Most importantly, our bodies are in sync with nature, which means, the vitamins and minerals in seasonal fruits and vegetables are exactly what our bodies need at that time.
2. Flavour Burst
When a fruit or vegetable gets the perfect amount of sun, and the minerals it needs and grows naturally happy, the flavours can be out of this world. If you've ever bought produce from an organic market and compared it flavour-wise to a mass-produced fruit or vegetable, the flavour difference will blow your mind.
In season fruits and vegetables grow naturally and flourish, which means farmers and retailers alike need to sell them because they're available in abundance and wasting food is not a good thing, no matter where you are in the world. However, if something (out of season) is imported, you'll see the price will be astronomical because of taxes, charges or the unnatural methods used to grow it out of season.
4. You're Supporting Local Farmers
Local farmers work hard and need our support - especially if they're on the small scale. Competing against major supermarkets is hard. They're a business after all and in most cases, smaller farms use traditional methods to grow succulent fruits and vegetables, without the need to 'medicate' their produce to make it grow faster for mass production.
5. Variety is Best
If a restaurant never changes its menu, how long do you think it will be around? Seasonal produce allows for home cooks and chefs alike to have variety in their meals and keeps the taste buds guessing. Winter foods might not be as appealing in summer and vice versa and having options for ingredients makes being creative with food even easier.
What's on the Menu?
It's easy to look around your local market to see what's in season. However, if you're looking for a comprehensive guide, check out https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/
Here is a rough guide for South African produce: