Why you must consume seasonal fruits and vegetables for better nourishment

Building up a culture and habit of eating seasonal vegetables and fruits helps one stay connected to the natural cycle of produce. Local experts weigh in on why it is not only good for our bodies, but also for the environment


Purva Grover

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Published: Thu 2 Feb 2023, 9:37 PM

It’s the season when the UAE witnesses the growth of locally grown vegetables and fruits. Eating seasonal foods is known to be extremely healthy as their nutrients are better intact. American author and editor Rosalie Muller Wright described the winter garden beautifully in these words ­— “But just because it looks quiet doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants. The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come.” So, what should you eat and why during these months? Local food enthusiasts weigh in on the benefits and choices. “Every culture around the world has its identity in gastronomy and food habits from the region they belong to. The food habits are in fact formed by the geo agro and climatic conditions of the area. The food consumption changes with every changing season to get the human body nutritionally aligned to face the change in weather and season. It is also reflective of the crop cycles and the agricultural availability,” explained Ankur Chakraborty, Chef and Co-Founder, The Crossing, Dubai.

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“Seasonal food provides greater nutritional value ­— vegetables that are eaten in season are harvested at ripeness, which means you can get the optimal taste and nutrients, which your body needs. In season produce is less likely to be stored with preservatives or subject to quick ripening processes, which reduce the taste and quality,” said Omaka Marie, Sous Chef, NIRI Restaurant & Bar, Abu Dhabi. Indian celebrity chef and restaurateur Kunal Kapur pointed out a significant reason why eating what’s in season is a wise idea, “With the change of each season, there is a possibility of body-picking infections that can naturally be avoided by strengthening the immune system using the seasonal bounty. The longer the fresh ingredients sit in the cold chain the less is the nutrition and taste. So, consuming fresh and seasonal by using them smartly in your daily recipes promotes good health.” Kapur recently opened his restaurant Pincode at Dubai Hills Mall, Dubai.

“The biggest benefit of eating seasonally sensitive produce is that it is conducive to the human body to sustain the nourishment needs of the body. It enhances digestion, keeps the body temperature to where it needs to be,” added Chakraborty. He explained further how winter is when the leafy vegetables are in their prime — due to the optimal growing conditions and more exposure to sun, these are packed with antioxidants and vitamins, “Hence, winter is the best time to consume these, as they are fresher, they don’t travel long and are more nutritious.” Fact-check, as explained by Chakraborty, “On the other hand, in summers, the best product to consume often comes with high water content, which is again nature’s way to compensate the build loss in bodies during the hot summer, for example, watermelon and gourds. The seasonal ingredients are also sustainable to the local economies and restaurant businesses due to cost benefits.”

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“Produce that is purchased in season is more likely to be fresher, consumed closer to harvesting and higher in nutritional value. Some antioxidants such as Vitamin C, may be reduced by prolonged storage,” said Ali Yazdi, Chef and Founder, SLAW, Dubai. Kapur advises to eat winter kale, spinach, green leafy veggies, red carrots, black carrots, pomelos, tangerines, avocados, apples, Brussels sprouts, and celery, “They are easy to cook and wonderful in taste.”

“The UAE sees a massive influx of locally grown green vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green peas, etc.” added Chakraborty. At The Crossing, they have introduced winter-inspired dishes like Saag (tempered mustard and spinach leaves with garlic), Nimona (winter peas with butter and ricotta) and Malai Broccolini (chargrilled broccolini in a creamy marinade with cardamom and mace). “Kale, watermelon, tomatoes, carrots, baby spinach, cucumber, and figs are must-eats during this season,” said Juan Patricio Vasquez Sanmartin, Chef De Cuisine, Laguna Beach Taverna & Lounge, Dubai. “Local in-season sourced fruits and vegetables will also appear brighter and more vibrant rather than limp and dried up. Fruits and vegetables that are stored for long periods of time due to transportation also have a reduction in phytonutrients, which helps maintain our immune system,” added Yazdi.


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