For a good number of you, this sounds obvious, kinda like preaching to the choir. But, most people don’t actually eat seasonal produce. We are so used to eating the same stuff all year round; tomatoes, onion, potatoes, dania/cilantro, chicken, white rice, pasta, ugali, beef and maybe some sukuma/kale here and there. Yes it is convenient since you can get all of the above in a single supermarket but it becomes old and boring.
If you want some excitement in your kitchen, table and taste buds, you really have to think outside the box, experience new foods, ingredients and flavors. You have no excuse because we have the internet now, you can just google a recipe while in the supermarket or grocery store like I do. The best way to experience new flavors is getting them when they are at their peak.
Feel free to ask the workers what is in season, they will be more than happy to help. You can also detect seasonal produce on your own, just look for what is in plenty and pretty, things like spinach which are now in season look very pretty, pears too. Local oranges might not be as pretty but right now they are bursting with flavor, I eat them almost everyday. Bananas on the other hand taste very bland right now since they are not in season. The avocado season is starting slowly, I am very excited about that, the local cherry tomato season is also poppin. Artichokes, passion fruit, Alphonso mangoes also in season now.
As a chef, I have learnt that seasonal produce tastes so much better than the other stuff, any chef worth their salt will abide by this. You will even see restaurants and hotels use the term ‘seasonal’ a lot on their menus, because real foodies also know that seasonal stuff is sublime stuff.
Seasonal produce is always going to be cheaper than what people are used to eat all year round. This is simply because the produce is abundant and farmers want to get rid of it as fast as possible so they lower the prices but still make a decent sum due to the abundance of seasonality.
Most of the good stuff like cherry tomatoes, lemongrass, green avocado and plums cannot grow blemish if it is not their time. To meet market demands, farmers have to use many chemicals and dubious seeds to make sure we still see some cherry tomatoes all year round but they taste awful, I could never buy them again.
4. Carbon Footprint
Why import oranges from Israel and yet we have the most sweetest local oranges growing around the country? why seedless limes from China while we have amazing key limes from Mombasa? Eating seasonal produce will almost always lead you to eating very local produce which means that it will be picked fresh when at their peak because they are planned to be consumed withing days if not hours.
Supermarket fruit or not in-season fruit is usually picked like a week before it is in it’s prime – so that it can have a long shelf life for the long trip from China