The Many Benefits of Eating a Seasonal Diet.
We are entering my absolute favorite season of the year! AUTUMN!!
I love everything about this season.
The crisp air, the smell of the leaves falling from the trees, football, jeans and sweaters.
But I also love the magnificent bounty of fruits and vegetables available to us during this time of year.
Each season brings with it such a beautiful array of seasonal fruits and vegetables that also have a multitude of health benefits.
Many of our parents and grandparents only shopped for and prepared what was in season at that particular time. They didn’t have means to get “off season” produce. Today we go into the store and can buy strawberries and watermelon (among just about any type of produce) in mid-winter!!! Our bodies are not meant to consume produce out of season. Historically, before we had proper refrigeration and freezers, our eating patterns were dictated by the seasons. We consumed what was available because there were no other options.
As the seasons change we tend to naturally transition our diets, for example, in the summer we are looking for lighter and fresher foods that will energize us as we are usually more active and in the cooler weather our bodies naturally crave and need a warmer and heartier diet because we slow down to conserve our energy to get through the cold months.
According to John Doulliard, D.C., C.A.P., a natural health, Ayurveda and sports medicine practitioner from Boulder, Colorado states that, “seasonal eating has the potential to fulfill three, “best-selling” diets each for four months out of the year. “There is a low-fat spring harvest of bitter roots and leafy greens, a high-carb summer harvest of fruits and veggies, and a high-fat high protein fall harvest that stores easily for a long, dormant winter,” he explains. If we follow a more natural approach to our diet by eating active harvests during spring, summer and fall, he adds, we should be able to meet most of our nutritional needs.
If we follow natures seasonal produce schedule we will naturally support our bodies to transition from one season to the next and support our bodies nutritional needs.
I think that if there was only 1 item that could support the benefits of seasonal eating the best it would be a tomato! All of us would be able to agree that eating a beautiful ripe, juicy and fresh picked tomato in the summer is so much better than a tomato that is dull, hard and virtually tasteless in mid-winter that was actually picked when it is still green so that it will be “ripe” by time it arrives on the shelves at the grocery store.
It may not always be possible for everyone to eat locally and seasonally every single day of their life. What is really more important is to be informed and make the best choices you can when you can.
It is so easy for us to lose track of what is actually in season and what is not because everything is available year round most of the time.
SO HOW DOES SEASONAL EATING BENEFIT YOU?
Fresh is best – ALWAYS!!!
When food is harvested at the peak of their ripeness, when they are meant to be eaten, they truly taste totally different. Seasonal produce is full of flavor and high in nutrient value.
So here are some of the main benefits to choosing and consuming seasonal produce:
Food that is in season is full of flavor and color. When it ripens naturally and picked at its prime it will have so much more flavor and nutrition. When produce is harvested too early and then
Put in refrigeration for storage and transportation is will lose a significant amount of taste and nutritional content.
Produce is naturally nourished from the soil and sun. When they are harvested when they are actually ready they will have much higher levels of antioxidants and phyto-nutrients. When produce is stored for long periods of time and picked before they are ready the nutritional value rapidly declines.
The cost of produce goes down when the farmers are harvesting what is in season. This is just very simple supply and demand! Think about what the cost of a watermelon is in summer as opposed to the cost of it in the middle of winter.
Organic/Free of Pesticides, Chemicals and Toxins:
When food is grown out of season it will need some artificial assistance in the way of pesticides,
chemicals and preservatives in order to get them to the grocery store and make them appealing to us so we will purchase them. When we buy local and the farmers markets we can be assured we are getting something that is at it’s prime and better for us. I always look for the farmers that grow with USDA organic standards.
Support your local farmers. There is are so many wonderful farmers markets everywhere. We even have a winter farmers market in my area. I get seasonal fruit and produce year around!!
You can sign up for your farmers CSA program and get first dibs on all of the seasons gems.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a very powerful investment in your health and
well-being, community and local economy year-round! Get to know your local farmers.
Foods that are grown and harvested out of their normal growing season have an enormous impact on the environment.
First when we buy local we are supporting our farmers.
When foods are grown out of season the process is done with the assistance of pesticides, GMO measures, chemicals, etc., and they find their way into our waters and leach into the soil. The chemicals actually seep into the soil and become part of that plants DNA. Not to mention all of the energy required and fuel to transport the produce
When we eat seasonally it adds so much variety to our culinary repertoire. This somewhat forces us to try new and interesting things and takes us back into the kitchen. When we cook at home we take control of our health!! This is one of the best places to start when you want to do something great for your health. You have control of what goes into (and not) your food!!
This can give us that little nudge we have been needing/wanting to finally break some of the ruts and bad habits we have developed.
Seasonal food simply tastes better but also contains many ingredients that supports our bodies nutritional needs for that particular time of year.
You can look for the following fall produce at your local farmers markets or grocery store:
Sweet Potatoes & Yams Turnips
In summary, eating foods that are in season will give you an opportunity to save money, help your environment and add great nutrition to your daily diet along with wonderful variety of the seasons bounty.