Shop and dine for the season

Raspberries are at their best during spring.

Seasonal food is better – it’s a fact.

During spring in Victoria there’s a huge variety of fruit and vegetables ripe for the picking.

Most can be found in the Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley, with dozens of farms selling direct.

From artichoke to asparagus, beans, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, chillies, cucumbers, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsley, parsnips, peas, silverbeet, snow peas, spinach, spring onion, squash and zucchini, there’s no shortage of vegies available at their peak.

When it comes to spring fruit, berries, grapefruit, lemons, imperial mandarins, rhubarb and strawberries are all at their best.

Seasonal food is better for the climate, according to Environment Victoria.

When food travels around the world to get to reach its consumer, it uses lots of energy which means lots of greenhouse gases.

And it’s not just the distance – it’s also the refrigeration along the way, the energy that goes into packaging the food for the journey and storing it when it arrives.

Produce that is transported a long distance has to be harvested early so it doesn’t rot during transit. Harvesting early doesn’t allow the taste or nutrients to fully develop, which means that while consumers can buy tomatoes all year round, a winter tomato is pale, flavourless and doesn’t have the full nutritional content.

The alternative – eating local, seasonal produce — means that produce is picked as close to the time it will be eaten as possible, which means lots of flavour, colour and nutrients.

Buying local seasonal produce also means consumers don’t foot the bill for the transportation and storage.

When summer arrives, apricots, basil, beans, beetroot, berries, capsicum, carrots, cherries, chillies, corn, cucumber, eggplant, figs, grapefruit, grapes, leeks, lettuce, melons, onions, Valencia oranges, parsley, peaches, pears, peas, plums, potatoes, rhubarb, silverbeet, spring onion, squash, strawberries, tomatoes and zucchini should be in shopping baskets and on meal menus.

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