To some extent we all eat with the seasons – a juicy peach in summer and warming root vegetable stews in winter just feels right.
But over the last few years I have made a greater effort to eat what’s in season so that my food choices went beyond peaches and stews. Here are the top 3 reasons why I eat seasonally and I encourage you to do the same:
We eat about the same 30 foods year round. Ugh, I find this statement to be dismal and frankly, embarrassing. Thirty foods are nothing compared to what is available to us to enjoy.
Yet when I think back to my old eating habits, 30 is pretty close to the variety I was including in my life before I made an effort to eat what’s in season. I know seasonal eating has inspired me to be more creative in the kitchen. And creative doesn’t mean harder or more work.
The most commonly consumed vegetables and fruits are potatoes, corn, apples and bananas. Not only are there so many more options available, there is a greater variety of each individual food as well. For example, the most commonly purchased tomato is the hothouse tomato but local markets have many options of heirloom tomatoes full of different flavours and antioxidants when they are in season.
I would rather not leave my food options up to my major grocery chain; I’ll take what Mother Nature’s offering!
Each food and colour offers up a different array of phytonutrients (vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from plants) to be used by the body to build health into each and every cell. By including a variety of colours on my plate I am eating the rainbow so that all areas of my body are supported.
My taste buds are happy are too. So many women fear that eating healthy means bland, boring food or endless salads. When I began eating with the seasons my salads got a major facelift and they were not the main stay of my meals.
With each season, the salads that I do eat are bursting with new flavours thanks to the rotating fruits and veggies. My meals are more interesting because I discover new fruits and vegetables and either learn how to prepare them or get creative with how I prepare them.
2. Best nutrient bang for your buck (and bite)
Food that is grown out of season is usually grown with a greater amount of toxic chemicals because growing those peaches in winter is going to be quite challenging. Mother Nature knows best and there is no use in going against her. I really like that eating with the seasons is a super easy way to reduce my toxic load.
Food that is grown in season is picked at the peak of ripeness, which means it has had the opportunity to fully ripen in the sun. Artificial ripening just can’t compare to the fresh, juicy flavour and optimal levels of phytonutrients that sun ripening offers.
Eating with the seasons is also lighter on my wallet since the food doesn’t travel as far to reach my plate and is available in abundance. This might be the one time “cheaper” is actually better for our health.
My favourite part of eating with the seasons is that it syncs me up with the rhythm of nature. I realize this sounds incredibly woo-woo but it only means that the cycle of nature is flawlessly designed to build health in my body year round.
Root vegetables are hearty and grounding in the winter allowing us to feel satisfied and cozy. The abundance of fruit in summer is light on our digestion and incredibly hydrating to cool us down. Isn’t the simplicity of this beautiful?
So yes, this may be considered woo-woo to you but trust that Momma Nature has your back and eat with the season already!
3. Local, local, local
Food that is grown in season is more likely to be locally grown. Choosing local food is great for the local economy by keeping jobs and dollars within the community.
Choosing local food is also a better choice for the environment as it frequently travels thousands of kilometers. Food sourced from other countries requires transportation, storage, refrigeration and chemicals to fulfill all three. Eating with the season reduces or eliminates the need for these.
I love that all I have to do is tweak what I choose to eat and not only do I support my personal health but the health of my community and our planet.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call… on your local farmer. Sorry… I have been listening to Carole King’s Tapestry album on repeat after finding it at a local vinyl show. But seriously, take time to get to know your local farmers and farmer’s markets. They will help connect you to your food and your community.
What’s more local than your own kitchen? Eating what’s in season gets me playing in my kitchen and making most of my meals from scratch. This has been one of the best ways to say goodbye to the BLAHs.
As a Canadian, I understand that it is not always possible to eat what is in season locally. However, with food available year round it is easy to lose track of what is actually in season. It is good to keep in mind or learn what is in season to reap the benefits of seasonal eating.