The Fresher the Better
Do you know how long conventional fruit and vegetables travel before it lands in your shopping trolley? The reason it matters so much to us is because locally grown, freshly picked fruit and vegetables are a lot more nutritious and flavoursome. And here is why: after being harvested, ordinary produce is exposed to a ray of different temperatures, transported and handled multiple times before they are finally placed on the shelves for us to buy. Apart from that, fruit and vegetables continue to “breathe” and will naturally start degrading with extended contact with air and light – the longer it takes to be eaten, the less flavour and nutritional value it will have.
For you to have an idea, the apples you see available at major supermarkets throughout January, were very likely picked in March the previous year!
Taking apples as an example, here is what happens to them after they are picked:
Firstly, they are usually placed in giant containers submerged in water so they float out. At this pre-sorting stage, “bad” ones are spotted and removed. Detergent and chlorine are applied and then rinsed off with hot water. Brushes remove stubborn bird droppings and the fruit is air dried. More often than not, wax is then applied to improve gloss and seal in moisture and hot-aired once more. They pass along a conveyor belt and are photographed and analysed by a computer for consistency of colour, shape and size.
The fruit is then graded, weighed and arranged accordingly – some are worthy of being sold (class 1), others go into bags and labelled as “processing” apples – for juicing, pies and other products.
Loaded on pallets, the apples go into cold storage. In longer-term controlled atmosphere storage, the oxygen level is additionally lowered from 2% to nearly 1%, putting the fruit to “sleep” for 6-12 months.
The apples are then taken by a truck to a central warehouse, then distributed to the supermarkets. And because supermarkets buy them by the tons, they are again refrigerated and only put out on the shelves a few kilos at a time.
Crazy, huh? Technology makes it possible for us to experience all the conveniences we are used to but how about our health and connection to our food?
People got so accustomed to buying out of season. In fact, the great majority of us don’t even know what exactly grows when. This disconnection with the natural cycles of nature started when giant supermarket chains (in their process of dominating the market and pushing smaller traders out of business) started offering a huge variety of fruit and vegetables throughout the whole year. Consequently, we consumers don’t think twice about the fact we can buy “fresh” asparagus in winter for a particular recipe we’re trying out, not realising they have travelled all the way from South American countries. Now imagine the process they go through to guarantee that asparagus is edible by the time it reaches Australian ground?
Buying in season is the way to go! The only way to go in our opinion! By getting a box of fresh organic produce delivered to your door every week you are in for some added variety to your diet throughout the year. Rather than an endless rotation of potatoes, carrots and lettuce on your dinner plate, eating seasonally will see you getting creative with celery and kale and enjoying the benefits of beetroot and eggplant where you might not have otherwise.
Here at PermaCare we are super passionate about the freshness of the fruit and vegetables we put inside our boxes. We really want to see our community growing strong and getting all that nutritional value in their bodies. If you are only getting started in your journey of buying more consciously and in harmony with nature, it might take a little time to get used to it. Keep it up though. Once you start seeing the benefits in your health and lifestyle we guarantee there is no going back.
To a healthy life!