By Coach Mel
Modern day “conveniences” have made it so that we can essentially have any food we want all year long. But this is not necessarily an advantage to us. Gone are the days where we hunted down our food or grew all we could eat. Now we probably have a small garden plot at best and buy most of our food at the grocery store. Even though times have changed we still can find ways to make the most of our foods. Eating seasonally is one.
Here are some reasons why you should adapt your eating to what is in season at the time.
- Foods in season have the highest concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Foods that are picked and then carried long ways start to lose their nutrients en route. I’ll bet you didn’t know (I didn’t until recently) that by the time they get to us most oranges don’t even carry a recognizable amount of Vitamin C. Foods that don’t have to be transported are also less likely to be covered in waxes, pesticides and preservatives.
- Your taste buds will thank you. If you choose foods that are in their prime then they will have the most flavor and taste the best! Imagine if you can a warm summer day, outside with a watermelon and a knife… or biting into a crisp apple just picked from the tree in the fall.
- The environment will thank you. Think about how much transportation is required to truck, ship, and fly foods from one place to another. To that end, if all that shipping is happening then more chemicals are needed to preserve the food in its travel. Our carbon footprint could be reduced by buying locally.
- You wallet stays thicker. When we buy what is in season there is more of an abundance and therefore the price is lower. We also help our local economy by buying from local farmers.
Some might argue that this way of eating is limiting but I say it drives more variety to your fridge. We are creatures of habit and if you think about it, I’m sure you have your go-to vegetables and fruits that you put in your basket without even thinking about it...because they are always available. So if you try and eat more seasonally, you will force your habits to change every few months. This will expose your body to different nutrients giving our bodies the variety they crave.
Here are some tips for eating with the seasons:
Spring - Stick to leafy green vegetables like swiss chard, spinach, romaine lettuce, basil and parsley.
Summer - Tend toward light foods like strawberries, pears, plums, summer squash, broccoli, corn.
Fall - Think of warm things like carrots, sweet potato, onions, garlic.
Winter - Root vegetables like beets, parsnip, carrots.
All year - Healthy methods of storage include freezing, fermenting, canning, drying. Find a local farmer's market.
There is no doubt that eating seasonally is tastier and more fun. Challenge yourself to cook with something new, visit a Farmer’s Market, even start your own garden! It could be a small step to enhancing our community and bettering our health.
*Want a great book for inspiration? Check out Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, in which her family undertakes a year-long challenge of eating only locally and in-season. You may not need to go to the lengths her family does but it will give you great ideas of how to make healthy changes along the way.