What is Seasonal Eating?
Simply put, seasonal eating is a focus on consuming food that is in season in our locality. It is easiest to get locally grown foods that have just been harvested to ensure freshness and nutritional content. This means that one should pay attention not only to the time of year that a food is produced, but also the location of its production and the time it takes to get to your plate. For fruits and vegetables, the closer to home, the better.
We develop an enjoyment and appreciation for foods that have a limited growing-season. Think of fresh corn on the cob and berries in the summer and how special they are each year. Try to have locally-grown foods as your first choice, and supplement with other foods as desired. Living in a culture where everything is available year-round, we’ve lost touch with what’s really in season at the time. Regularly visiting your local farmers markets is an easy way to get back in touch with seasonal foods. I think you’ll find that these foods are the most delicious and satisfying, as well as colorful.
Why Pay Attention to Food That’s in Season?
Do you know when blueberries are naturally in season? How about carrots? Celery? If these are staples of your diet, don’t you think you should know when they are meant to be grown and eaten?
If you have never noticed the difference in quality directly when eating seasonal versus non-seasonal foods, I challenge you to try an interesting empirical experiment. Go to your local food store and look for two options of the same food. For example, buy strawberries that were grown locally. Then, look for a strawberries that were grown in another location that were shipped to your region. Open them together at the same time and you will notice a stark contrast.
Eating more and more local product will help to develop your enjoyment and sensitivity to all foods. The natural colors and integrity of the food will also stand out. Your organ function, skin, and even mood can be enhanced by these seasonal foods, and your personal health will be more vibrant on a diet that includes them.
Don’t forget that there is a lot of love given to the food grown on local farms. I believe that their love nourishes the plants that they grow, in effect nourishing those who eat them. By supporting these small, local farmers and business, you have the opportunity of returning that love and supporting the economy. We don’t want to see these traditions disappear!
Seasonal Food Consumption is More Sustainable
There are reasons that go beyond short-term personal health decisions when it comes to selecting which foods to eat as well. When we follow the practices of previous civilizations, that include eating what naturally grows in a specific region at a given time throughout the year, we are helping the natural balance of the environment as well. Whatever your foods choices are, it’s always better to choose locally, which also includes animal foods. In a future article, we will address the affect of meat consumption and overconsumption of foods on our planet.
We have a greater latitude in choosing foods that will store for longer periods of time. Grains, beans, seeds, and nuts can be found anywhere on the same continent. Salt and seaweeds should be in the same hemisphere because the magnetic charge reverses in the southern hemisphere. The fresher and more perishable the food, the more important it is to find locally. For instance, fruits are more local than vegetables, and water should be the most local.
So why is local, naturally produced seasonal food more sustainable? The organic farming process enhances soil endlessly. Commercial farming techniques deplete nutrients and lead to widespread soil erosion and further pollution of streams and rivers. This is becoming a major problem in various places around the world.
Building a Plan for Seasonal Food Consumption
As mentioned, it may not always be realistic for each person on the planet to eat local, seasonal foods. But, simply understanding seasonal eating is step one to living a healthier, more sustainable life through food habits. But, if you want to make a more immediate impact on your seasonal food consumption, build a garden! If that isn’t and option, remember to choose local farmers markets. It may give you an opportunity to start talking with the people who grow the foods you eat and you can learn a lot about how to use them in meal preparation. I also found an interesting tool that allows you to select your region and the type of produce you should eat. Try it here for the basics: https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/
Lastly, in the last decade I have noticed a dramatic rebirth of CSAs, farmers markets, sourdough breads, and naturally fermented foods. Food is our connection to nature. Locally-grown foods connect us to our locality. So, overtime, as we observe these principles, we become more aligned and sensitive to nature and the changing seasons.
Still have questions or want help with eating the right foods for your diet? Reach out for a consultation and I will be happy to help you with your unique path to understanding seasonal eating and local food integration into your diet.