Eating with the seasons was a natural part of life for our ancestors. They didn't have the luxury of heading to the super market where they could choose between avocados shipped in from Mexico in the dead of winter or apples grown in the state of Washington available in early summer. In case you're wondering, avocados are in season in the summer in temperate climates and apples in their natural climate are typically harvested in late summer and into fall. There are absolutely biological reasons for this. Our ancestors were at the mercy or nature's incredible intelligent cycles when it came to their food choices. They were honoring nature and their place within it, whether they knew it or not.
Today we appear to have an abundance of choices when we head to the store, however, this is an illusion. The dangerous facts surrounding the big "food" manufacturers grip on consumer options in major grocery chains is worth its own article. But for the sake of the subject at hand, the benefits of eating seasonally, I do want to point out that as consumers, it is truly up to us to make decisions that are healthier for ourselves, our families, our environment, and our economies. Your choices are NOT limited to selecting one brand of cereals available among hundreds. You have the choice to view your entire relationship with food differently. This includes where it is grown and how, how far it traveled to get to you, and its cost. Empowering yourself by recognizing your real choices will certainly help to loosen the grip these profit-hungry corporations have on our overall health and the direction we are headed as a society. Eating seasonally is simply one way to harmonize with nature, your body, your community, and your wallet.
This brings us to the benefits of eating seasonally:
When foods are grown locally and by season, they are allowed more sun exposure, increasing their antioxidant levels. Also, foods which are picked at the height of ripeness have higher nutrient and mineral contents. When you eat seasonally, also try to eat locally. Familiarize yourself with local growers and their growing methods. Things like crop rotation maintains soil value and lends to more nutritionally-rich produce.
Foods which are picked at the height of ripeness also taste better! Local, seasonal produce has a vibrancy that super market produce cannot come close to matching. The colors, aromas, textures, and flavors speak for themselves!
Foods grown by season don't require as much human intervention. Big Agra grows miles and miles of say, tomatoes, so of course they will run into issues with pestilence. The use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc. has depleted soil nutrients, harmed plants, animals, and humans alike, ruined entire ecosystems, contaminated water sources, the list goes on and on. Local growing practices tend to be much more harmonious on all levels. Not only that, but your produce doesn't have to travel hundreds of miles to get to you, contributing to environmental stresses.
Its quite simple; when we eat seasonal and local, we support out local community and its economy by supporting our local farmers. Also, local food doesn't have to travel far, so it can cost less. Seasonal abundance also contributes to lower costs.
I guarantee you would be amazed by how many varieties of tomatoes and kale there are. When you eat local and seasonal, you will likely come across varieties that you would never see offered at a super market. Yes, its true, you can find avocados in winter, but have you ever seen purple passion spinach?
When you care about where your food comes from, you will get to know the people who provide it! Farmers Markets connect you to local growers and farmers and also to like-minded people in your community who get it. Ask about growing methods, go on a farm tour, join a CSA, learn about local businesses doing good for the local environment and the health of the community. Teach your children, your friends, your neighbors. Connect to your food and the people who bring it to you! Real food connects people.
Eating seasonally challenges you to embark on new food adventures. You may come across new and strange varieties of fruits and vegetables that will open your eyes to what real variety looks like. And it will certainly challenge you to eat more fresh produce! There are unlimited resources available to you, awaiting the opportunity to assist you in creating new recipes, traditions, and sharing your experience with those around you.
Nature is DESIGNED to give us exactly what we need, when we need it. Eating with the seasons of nature is a simple way to deepen your connection to your body and to your environment, and to nature as a whole. When you honor your body in sync with the cycles of nature, this practice carries over beautifully into all areas of your life. There are many ancient practices with honor eating seasonally, for example, Ayurveda, and there are multitudes of biological, physiological, and environment reasons presented within the wisdom of these practices which I invite you explore. It will open your eyes to a bigger picture which reveals an opportunity for deep connection to your roots and to the planet as a human being.
Purple Passion Spinach!
There is a great FREE app for iPhone and Android called Locavore that is great for finding local, in-season food!