Seasons change, and so should the fruits and veggies you put on your plate, says Chef James Diack, one of South Africa’s pioneers of provenance. Earlier this year, Chef James became a resident head chef at Balsalt (a restaurant at the Peech Hotel in Johannesburg). James made a lasting impression on Johannesburg’s culinary scene when he opened Coobs in Parkhurst, which is now permanently closed. James won over diners with his dedication to farm-style cuisine. His dedication to enhancing simple ingredients while preserving their authenticity has brought him recognition and a devoted following.
Eating seasonally entails savouring locally grown produce that has been picked at the height of ripeness. There are many benefits to this practice that go beyond aesthetics.
Here are some of the benefits of eating seasonally in South Africa for warmer weather:
Fresh foods that are in season have the best flavour. Because they are grown locally, they are usually available only when they are ripe. This means that they have been allowed to fully ripen in the sun, which enhances their taste. Produce that is out of season is usually picked early and then stored in cold storage for months, leading to a loss of flavour. Eating seasonally also provides you with the chance to try new and exciting produce that you might not have come across before.
Seasonal produce is packed with nutrients, with fresh, unprocessed, local fruits and vegetables being at their best for both nutrition and tastiness. When a plant has more sun exposure, it tends to have higher levels of antioxidants, a significant health benefit. Additionally, seasonal produce is picked and consumed within days, if not hours, of its harvest, ensuring maximum nutrient density.
Supporting Local Farmers
By buying produce that is in season and locally grown, you are supporting local farmers. Not only is this good for the farmers, but it also has a greater benefit for the community and local economy as a whole.
The cost of out-of-season produce tends to be higher, as it often has to be imported from other countries. Local, seasonal produce will be more reasonably priced because it is farmed in abundance. Eating seasonally also enables you to save money on groceries by purchasing produce that is cheaper and more easily accessible.
Eating seasonally can also have a significant impact on the environment. Produce that is out-of-season often requires significant amounts of energy and resources to grow and deliver, such as requiring more water and fertilisers or transporting it by air or sea. When you eat seasonally, you reduce the carbon footprint of your food by selecting produce that is grown around you and reducing the resources required to get it to your table.
In conclusion, the benefits of eating seasonally in South Africa during warmer weather are numerous. By eating fresh, locally grown produce that is in season, you can enjoy optimal flavour, nutritional value, affordability, environmental benefits, and support for local farmers. Go ahead and explore the local markets during the warmer months for an array of seasonal delights!