Eat local. Eat what’s in season. Eat organic…. Confused by multiple messages about what to eat and where to buy it? We’ve looked into eating seasonal food and here’s why you should really do it.
For most of us, the taste of the food we buy is every bit as important as the cost, if not more so. When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste. Compare a dark red, vine-ripened tomato still warm from the summer sun with a winter hothouse tomato that’s barely red, somewhat mealy, and lacking in flavor. When transporting crops, they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t rot during transportation. They may not ripen as effectively as they would in their natural environment and as a result they don’t develop their full flavor. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about eating five servings a day of flavorless fruits and vegetables and it’s even harder to get your children to be enthusiastic about it.
Foods that are available out of season have generally been stored for long periods or shipped from halfway around the world to ensure a steady supply year round. Certain nutrients like vitamin C and cell-protecting phytochemicals are particularly susceptible to losses from prolonged storage and transportation. All fruits and vegetables start to lose nutrients immediately after they are harvested, so the best produce is the freshest. Seasonal local food is also less likely to be covered with preservatives, fungicides and waxes that are used to treat imported, out of season produce in order for it to withstand the trip from the farm to the store.
To enjoy the full taste and nourishment of food, you must make your menu seasonal. In different parts of the world, and even in different regions of one country, seasonal menus can vary. But here are some overriding principles you can follow to ensure optimal nourishment in every season:
We are encouraged to eat a variety of foods to provide our bodies with the full spectrum of essential nutrients needed for health and vitality. Most of us also enjoy a change every now and then. So try something different from the farmer’s market that you wouldn’t normally choose and find a recipe for it.
Food that is shipped and trucked all over the world increases our carbon footprint. It requires more fuel and energy for transport and emits more pollution contributing to global warming and unhealthy air quality. Additionally, to withstand the time, distance, and temperature fluctuations of travel and storage, produce is often chemically treated so that it doesn’t spoil or ripen before it gets to the stores. Local seasonal food on the other hand travels short distances, requiring less packaging and processing.
Seasonal produce is more abundant and comes from local sources, so it is cheaper than in the supermarkets. Healthy cooking and eating doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of money buying food – it just comes down to a little more planning and making the effort to fit it into your busy lifestyle.
Buying food from local farmers markets is the perfect way to stay in touch with what is in season and build relationships with the amazing people producing local food. It’s important to know where your food has come. This doesn’t always mean it needs to be organic, but rather ethically produced, honest and clean.
We are limited to what is available each season
Actually it creates more variety than limits. But it may cause us to step out of our comfort zone. When we switch to seasonal food consuming, it opens up a whole new world of combinations that we may never have tried yet.
Certain food may never become available
Some foods may never be available due to the very nature of the local environment and climate. At some times of year such as severe winter, there is almost no seasonal food around, and in certain regions it is impossible even to grow certain food.
Depending on where you live or your lifestyle, it may be difficult to eat only local seasonal foods. Healthy eating is about balance and first and foremost about addressing your own personal nutritional requirements so there are no hard or strict rules to this. But there are steps that most people can take to get started.
Pomegranate Ginger Sauce
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spices
Combine all spices together and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.
Heat in oven to the medium heat. Cover the squash slices with salt, pepper and coconut oil, cook until golden, about 5 minutes per side. If desired, add brown sugar to help the squash to caramelize. Add arugula to a large bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add in avocado, pomegranate, cucumber, pecans and squash pieces. Cover with the pomegranate dressing.
Pomegranate Ginger Sauce
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. Stream in the olive oil while constantly whisking until the dressing comes together. Store in the fridge for up to one week.