Topic 3 Seasonal Meal Plans

Seasonal meal planning means that we plan our meals based around the produce that grows during a certain season. Basically, focusing on what grows in your area, during that specific time.

  • When comparing local and seasonal produce with its equivalent out-of-season imported fruits and vegetables, we learn that there are some pros and cons regarding its consumption. Seasonal produce is considered to be more tasteful, fresher, and overall better quality than the latter. Nonetheless, it can also be more costly, less convenient, more tedious to obtain, and limit diet variety – which all proves why consuming ONLY seasonal food would be impractical.
  • Although these foods are classified depending on the season they naturally grow-in and are produced, people commonly associate seasonal foods with what they eat during certain holidays and cultural events throughout the year. A very common example is eating turkey during Christmas. This leads to supermarkets having a high stock of turkey during the month of December, insinuating it is a seasonal product. Due to these different interpretations of what seasonal foods are, it is important to define the public message that we want to set out

QUESTION: Are all foods seasonal?   A) No     B) Yes

Explanation. Nowadays we can buy and eat a wide variety of foods all year around because a) foods can be transported around the world on lorries, boats and even planes and b) farms use large greenhouses to control the temperature and create perfect growing conditions. Thus, tropical fruits can come from places with hot climates like Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

However, some foods are not seasonal. Meat and dairy can be produced all year around. Cows are milked and chickens produce eggs from January all the way to December.

QUESTION: The only reason to eat local food is to save money.  A) False   B) True

Explanation: It is true that the longer food travels from the farm or food industry to the grocery store, the higher the cost for the families – as food grown locally in-season is tastier and cheaper to buy. However, there are other reasons to prefer seasonal food.

  • Eating seasonally is fresher, tastier and more nutritious than when it is grown and consumed in its natural season than the equivalent imported produce or those produced out of season.
  • Thus, even though we all like to eat strawberries year round, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest. Seasonal fruits and vegetables produced on local farms are often fresher, as they do not require long distances for transport. Additionally, studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally on their parent plant. In conclusion, a seasonal eating plan is healthier for you and your family.
  • Having a seasonal food calendar in your fridge door can be helpful
  • Purchasing locally grown foods helps support local farms and maintains farmland and open spaces in your community.
  • Local food supports the local economy. The money you spend on products from local farmers and growers stays in the community and is reinvested in other local businesses. In addition, food grown, processed, and distributed locally (for example, to local restaurants) generates jobs and subsequently helps stimulate local economies.
  • Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. When you buy directly from farmers, you have the opportunity to ask what practices they use to raise and harvest their crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about your food.
  • Eating seasonal produce is better for the environment, because less fuel is used when choosing in-season produce that is local to your area.
  • Seasonal meal planning is just plain easier

When you create your own meal plan for a season, then you could transfer it to the next month or season, according to seasonal or recipes for every season or months.

Every family should know the guideline of what produce, specially fresh fruits and vegetables, is in season for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter or in every month, in their country or region, because the weather conditions vary around the world and also the seasonal grown produce.

Next, we attach several national guides of seasonal foods to several countries:

QUESTION: It is possible only eating seasonal food?  

Some countries have been involved in several projects that aim to encourage the consumption of seasonal and local food, and thus reduce the environmental impact of diets. Examples include ‘The Fife Diet’ in Scotland, 100-mile diet in Canada, and the Nordic diet. There have been attempts to eat only locally produced foods for a whole year – actually, this is how the 100-mile diet started. A couple in Canada wanted to see if it was possible to only consume food produced within a 100-mile radius of Vancouver. Even though they were in fact able to achieve this, they explained that preparing food was too time-consuming and laborious, comparing it to a part time job. Also, they shared how difficult it was to eat a varied and balanced diet throughout the year. This is just an extreme, yet interesting, approach to seasonal eating, however, it works to identify some of the obstacles that can appear and need to be appreciated when implementing this practice.