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Are you paying attention when you choose your fruits and veggies when you go to your local market or grocery store? Not everything provided to us is the right choice for any given time of year. Each one has its own ripening process, depending on where it’s grown, affecting its harvest season. The problem is that at our local grocery stores we can find some foods throughout the year, making it hard to know when its actual season really is. And, although there are many official seasonal fruit and vegetable calendars in Spain, it is worth taking into account several key aspects.
The Question of Hemispheres
We are used to most local markets and grocery stores in Europe offering us fruits such as Strawberries and Cherries as the warm weather approaches. However, if we pay attention, we realize that we can find them at other points of the year as well. Why? Foods grown in a field don’t grow according to any schedule set by a calendar, but rather according to the time and temperature of where they are grown. There are fruits and vegetables that we naturally associate with warmer and colder periods.
Hence the importance of geographic areas around the planet. The cultivation cycle in Spain isn’t the same as those in another country, located in a different hemisphere. People in Chile or Brazil are on the beach celebrating the New Year, at the same time that we are celebrating bundled up in wool coats. Therefore, their cultivation cycle is the exact opposite of ours. The foods grown in these countries are also seasonal foods, with all their nutrients and benefits, you just have to import them.
In season, yes. Environmental impact, also yes.
As a consumer we must choose foods that are in season in our area, thus benefiting our local farmers. Or, we must be more careful and ensure the foods we choose are in season in their country of origin. The choice is yours to make, but the impacts on the environment are clear. Transporting a product from a farmer in Murcia to a grocery store in Alicante is not the same as transporting kilos of strawberries from the other side of the world to Madrid.
And we’re not only talking about transportation by air or sea. For those fruits and vegetables to be delivered in prime condition, they must go through a packaging process, this is where plastic comes into play. More and more we see pre-wrapped zucchini and other foods in plastic at the grocery store, which in Spain has led to the movement of #Desnudalafruta (which roughly translates to #undressthefruit) However, there is so much more that we don’t see: all the plastic used in the transportation of food crossing thousands of kilometers.
The Two Essentials: Flavor and Health
Seasonal fruits and veggies tend to taste way better as they are at their peak ripeness. Why is that, you may wonder? The ripening cycle of fruits and veggies depends on their need for the rain, cold, sun, or heat and this directly impacts their appearance and taste. That’s why their optimal point is the one that respects their natural cycle, thus making its flavor and natural properties better.
When food is purchased that’s ripening process isn’t correct, or has been altered by fertilizers and other chemicals there is a direct impact on our health. This problem particularly happens with the skins of some fruits and vegetables. In fact, some experts question whether we should even eat the skins as they might be contaminated thus not giving us any benefit.
Seasonal Fruits In Spain
Avocado Grapefruit Orange
Lemon Apricot Nectarine
Cherry Fig Banana
Berries Plum Kiwi
Raspberry Apple Pineapple
Strawberry Peach Dutch medlar
Pear Papaya Watermelon
Seasonal Vegetables In Spain
Chard Artichoke Celery
Eggplant Pumpkin Zucchini
Onion Spring Onion Asparagus
Spinach Green bean Lettuce
Turnip Green pepper Leek
Beets Cabbage Tomato
Don’t forget to include these in your next grocery list! Then you’ll be prepared for any of these delicious seasonal recipes! Chef’s trick: Add any of your favorite nut creams to a slice of fresh fruit. You won’t be disappointed!