The fruits and vegetables available in supermarkets change as the weather changes. Warmer weather usually signals more mangoes, cherries, asparagus, and other seasonal ingredients.
Buying produce when it’s in season is an excellent way to save money and pack more nutrients into your meals.
We’ve compiled a chart of popular fruits and vegetables that are currently in season, plus a few ways to prepare them at home.
Summer harvest guide – Which fruits and vegetables are in season?
Months: December, January, February
You can use the fruits in season to create delicious meals at home or for work.
For example, combine watermelon slices with fresh tomato, salt, coarse black pepper, watercress, onion and a balsamic vinaigrette to make a refreshing side for grilled fish or steak.
“Nature gives us what we need when we need it.”Elson Haas
What is seasonal eating and what are the benefits?
Seasonal eating is a tasty way to celebrate changing seasons. It means eating foods that are in harvest during the time you consume them, as they are in peak harvest and growth form.
The benefits of seasonal eating include lower prices, denser flavors and nutrients, a longer shelf-life, and a lower carbon footprint. Let’s unpack each benefit separately.
Seasonal ingredients cost less
Have you noticed what’s usually on sale and highly visible at the grocery store? That’s right — seasonal produce! That’s because it’s the most abundant and easiest to transport to the store for the grocer, meaning it’s the cheapest to buy at that time for you.
Seasonal ingredients are packed with more flavor and nutrients
Seasonal foods are typically known to taste better and have more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. I consider it one of the most sustainable ways to improve your diet.
It encourages you to consume more fresh fruit and vegetables instead of eating the same small group of fruits and vegetables year-round.
Also, crops harvested in season have received more sun, which means they contain more antioxidants to help you fight free radicals and toxins in your body.
Seasonal ingredients have a longer shelf life and lower carbon footprint
Studies show that foods grown out of season are unable to follow their natural growth patterns. They are only available year-round because ripening agents are used to keep them edible.
Another reason for year-round availability is that South Africa imports food products from other countries. According to Best Food Importers, we witnessed a significant rise in the demand for green vegetables, onions and tomatoes in 2018. India, Nigeria and Germany were amongst the leading suppliers for these vegetables.
However, eating locally-grown produce uses less fuel and energy to get the produce from farm to table, which results in less of an environmental impact.
How to buy seasonal ingredients
To take advantage of these benefits, look out for products grown near you and labeled ‘Grown in South Africa’. A local farmers’ market is a great way to find cheap, locally-grown food..
Eating seasonally and locally gets us naturally in tune with the calendar, supports local farmers, and makes for healthier, more delicious meals — not only improving our bodies and skin, but also the community around us.
Head over to your local grocer or farmer’s market and pick up some greens for your next meal!
In health and happiness,
Chef Lerato Mokonyane has worked for some of South Africa's best-known brands such as McCain, Topo Chico, Eskort, and Sutherland Wines. She's passionate about recipe development, food photography, and everyday nutrition.