Let’s begin with cost. When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. Let´s take the herbs you see in a supermarket during the winter – a few sprigs of basil, all too frequently with black speckles and moldy leaves, cost about 5 TL. In contrast, the gorgeous, bright green, crisp basil you see in both supermarket and at markets in the summer when basil is in season often sells for as little as 2 TL for an enormous bunch. It’s the basic law of supply and demand, and when crops are in season you’ll be rewarded financially by purchasing what’s growing now.
It tastes better
For most of us, the taste of the food we buy is every bit as important as the cost, if not more so. When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste. Compare a dark red, vine-ripened tomato still warm from the summer sun with a winter hothouse tomato that’s barely red, somewhat mealy, and lacking in flavor. When transporting crops, they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t rot during transportation. They may not ripen as effectively as they would in their natural environment and as a result they don’t develop their full flavor.
Many people are surprised to find that a wide variety of crops are harvested in the fall (squash, apples, endive, garlic, grapes, figs, mushrooms) and winter (citrus, kale, radishes, turnips, leeks) in addition to products that we readily associate with the summer like sweet peas, corn, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans.
You save nutrients, flavour, and petrol too!
If you harvest something early so that it can endure a long distance shipping experience, it’s not going to have the full complement of nutrients it might have had.” In addition, transporting produce sometimes requires irradiation (zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce which is subsequently refrigerated during the trip.
Grow it yourself
Because of limited growing seasons in most regions, it’s virtually impossible to eat locally and in season 100% of the time. So what’s your best option? If possible, grow it and pick it yourself – you’ll know exactly what went into growing those vegetables and you can enjoy them at their peak the day they are harvested. If gardening isn’t your thing, visit one of the markets here weekly. There is for example an incredibly wide variety of great fruit and veg at Baris Park Market in Girne on Wednesdays, and the market in Güzelyurt on Saturdays. Read more about the local markets here.