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Why using seasonal ingredients is better for you, your wallet, & environment (+ 2 recipes)

With everything becoming more expensive and knowing that eating seasonal is not only more nutritious but more environmentally friendly, it's a good time to look at alternatives. Here is Toby Geneen, co-founder/head chef at Kindling Restaurant, looking at why using seasonal ingredients is better for you, your tastebuds, your wallet, and the environment. As well as two easy recipes to help you preserve seasonal summer fruits so they can be used later in the year.


By Toby Geneen, co-founder and co-head chef at Kindling Restaurant

Fresher, sweeter produce that tastes better – that’s what you get if you choose ingredients that are naturally in season. The joy of something perfectly ripe is that very little needs to be done to it to make it taste amazing. Nothing compares to the taste of tomatoes grown outdoors and ripened in the late August sunshine. Fragrant, sweet and juicy, these tomatoes taste of tomato and need nothing more than some salt and pepper to sing on the plate - a far cry from the red bullets that are imported in December.

Fresh Grown Tomatoes

Imported produce is generally picked well before it is ripe to make it easier to transport. This is why the avocadoes we buy in the UK will never taste like the ones in Mexico! Imported food is kept refrigerated for long periods of time and doesn’t develop the same levels of nutrients as food that is allowed to ripen in situ. Seasonal food has a higher nutritional value because it is consumed riper and closer to the time of harvest, while food that is transported and stored for long periods rapidly loses antioxidants such as vitamin C, diminishing its health benefits.

Seasonal food also supports what your body needs. Summer foods such as tomatoes and stone fruits contain high levels of carotenoids which help protect us against sun damage. When ripened on the vine, tomatoes have plenty of time to develop lots of the red plant chemical lycopene. This has been well documented in safeguarding our skin from damaging UV rays and protecting against skin cancer. Summer vegetables are also naturally lighter and have a higher water content helping us to stay cool and hydrated. Although 80% of your daily water intake usually comes from drinks, the other 20% comes from foods. Cucumbers, lettuce, courgettes, and watercress are all excellent summer vegetable sources of water. By contrast, winter veggies tend to be rich in starches. These help to provide the extra energy we need to stay warm in the colder months. What we eat sends signals to our body about the time of year. A warming pumpkin curry in October makes much more sense than a cold leafy salad.