These days a lot of people are turning to a self sufficient lifestyle and growing your own food is a good way of ensuring food safety in these uncertain times. Fresh produce is our best source of natural vitamins, minerals and sugars. If you’re feeling tired and foggy, there’s a chance you aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals from the food you eat.
For many families the ultimate gift is to go out into their backyard and handpick fresh fruit and vegetables for every meal. Ripe, fresh, bursting with nutrition, home grown produce.
As a child growing up on a farm, many hours were spent sitting amongst planted rows or under fruit trees munching on whatever was growing nearby while my parents planted the season’s crops. I would wait and watch the growing progress eagerly with them, hoping for an abundant crop, but for me it was knowing that soon every meal would include my favourite fruit or vegetable until the crop ended and another favourite appeared. As I grew older I learned about ‘seasonal produce’ and how plants use soil nutrients, pollination and climate to grow and which plants produce best at different times of the year.
We could be forgiven for thinking that plants do this purely for us, to give us health and vitality and though this is partly true, it is a simple matter of survival. If a plant waits until the peak of health and provides the sweetest and tastiest fruit, then it is most likely to be eaten and the seeds spread to grow another new plant.
So from this, we know that fruit and vegies that are in the peak of their season have the most nutrition and we can be sure to stock up on our favourites when they become available.
It is widely assumed that eating locally grown and produced food means spending more money. But in fact, the best way to save money in general is buying produce locally, in bulk and in season. When you buy food that’s at the peak of its season it costs less for farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get to your grocery store.
If growing your own is not an option, fruit and vegie stalls, local markets and farmer’s markets are ideal places to shop if you really want to make the most from your produce.
*Tip – Shopping at local markets or the farmers market is a different experience with a different strategy to shopping at your local grocery store. When you go to these markets, go in with an open mind and not a list of produce you need. The idea of buying produce in season is to create meals around what is available.
This is the ideal time to buy in bulk and freeze or dehydrate food so our favourites can be enjoyed all year round. A Sedona food dehydrator is your best friend when it comes to maintaining nutrition and preserving food. My personal favourite is mango season which only comes around once a year but now we have enough dried mango to last from one season to the next.
Once mangoes and other seasonal produce go out of season they become so expensive it hurts! Buying anything outside of its season is never a cost effective way of shopping. Out of season produce needs to be transported from far away or even imported from overseas which means they are not always at their most nutritious when they arrive on our supermarket shelf. The cost of transporting fruit and vegetables is very high, not only to our pocket but to the environment and also the nutrition of the produce itself. To last such a long journey without spoiling, fruit and vegies are picked when it is green and young; before it has had time to ripen and develop its full value of nutritious vitamins, minerals and sugars.
Once you start the process of buying locally it will force you to learn about the seasonality of produce. As a starting point, take a look at our overview below for what’s available and when.
Buying seconds from farms is another great way to save as there is nothing wrong with them apart from the fact that they are unable to supply large stores with anything that does not appear perfect, with no blemishes, slight bruising, under sized or odd shaped. Seconds are just as tasty and can be perfect for dehydrating, juicing and fermenting.
The benefit of dehydrating becomes apparent when you consider all the costs in buying produce. A 9 Tray Sedona dehydrator will hold up to 18kg of produce at a time and there are many ways to use dried food. Dried food can be re-hydrated and used in cooking or as a snack and retains all the healthy vitamins it had when fresh and destroys bacteria and mould that cause allergies. As an avid self sufficient traveller, I have been able to reduce my energy consumption by dehydrating seasonal produce and packing into my camping box. No refrigeration needed, extra tasty nutritional ingredients in my food and less time spent shopping. If you want to know more about how to stock up your home or camper pantry and reduce your energy needs click here.
A food dehydrator is an investment in your family’s health and it is important to consider several factors when choosing the right one. Firstly, knowing what the dehydrator is made from is vital. Even though it is not an oven and should not get very hot, a high quality polycarbonate is best or if you can afford it, double-walled stainless steel. Be wary of cheap stainless dehydrators as these are single wall and will heat up and destroy the nutrients you are trying to preserve. Cheap dehydrators also use cheap materials for their shelving, Sedona use BPA free food-grade polypropylene or high quality stainless steel. Another priority should be warranty and ease of repair. Sedona dehydrators are designed to keep you dehydrating for decades. Cheap dehydrators usually get thrown into landfill when they break down putting unnecessary burden on our environment.