Regardless of whether it's strawberries at Christmas, grapes in spring, or chicory in summer, shoppers have become used to the huge variety of fruit and vegetables that stores offer throughout the year – and they often no longer know which ones are actually in season at a given time.
For fruit and vegetables to be available throughout the seasons they are often picked much too early, grown with sunlight filtered by greenhouse glass, and shipped over long distances before they reach the store. All this has a damaging effect on the environment because greenhouses and means of transport produce a great deal of CO2. Making deliberate choices in the store and buying foods that are grown with sustainable methods can help to significantly reduce the negative effect on the climate.
Anyone who purchases seasonal and regional foods is doing his or her body a favour. This is because foods that are transported over long distances tend to lose important vitamins and nutrients. Furthermore, vegetables and fruit grown in greenhouses in warmer countries also have more residues from contaminants, because they need to be treated with strong pesticides on account of the hot and humid climate in which they grow.
Such vegetables and fruit often also have higher concentrations of nitrates than those grown outdoors. Nitrate is a natural mineral from the earth that generally reaches the plant through fertilisers and is harmless by itself. However, the body may convert it into nitrite, which poses a health risk.
And regional foods have an additional important advantage: they simply taste better.