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Seasonal eating isn’t just a fad—it’s how everyone ate before modern transportation allowed us to consume foods from all over the world. While there are upsides to that, the overall trend away from locally grown and optimally harvested foods has harmed nutritional health.
Produce that’s grown out-of-season and harvested early is lacking in nutrients compared to foods that are allowed to ripen as they should and harvested during their prime.
What Is Seasonal Eating?
Eating seasonally means consuming foods that are in season. Where you live can heavily dictate the foods that are in season in your area. Just because a food is in season halfway around the world does not mean it’s in season everywhere else.
While this practice is not mainstream, the more that consumers demand locally grown produce that’s in season, the more it will become available. You can also grow your own vegetables and fruits, which not only provides seasonal crops but can save on your grocery budget.
How do you know what’s in season? The best way to find out is to ask farmers in your area. But a general guide to seasonal produce in North America looks like this:
- Winter: Kale, cauliflower, turnips, sweet potatoes, onions, parsnips, and citrus
- Spring: Asparagus, carrots, salad greens, leeks, artichokes, rhubarb, spinach, dandelion greens, kohlrabi, garlic, radishes
- Summer: Berries, cherries, eggplant, Swiss chard, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, avocado, salad greens, summer squash
- Autumn: Squashes, beets, apples, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, figs, pears, sweet potatoes, mushrooms
Pickling and fermenting are two common ways of food preservation that go along with a seasonal eating pattern. Plus, they provide probiotics that support natural immunity.
Why Should You Care About Eating Seasonally?
There are many reasons to make seasonal eating more of a practice in your personal life. If you want to regain the healthful benefits that come from an ancestral diet, eating seasonally in addition to choosing high-quality foods is a necessity.
There are many benefits to seasonal eating:
- You’ll eat foods that have more nutrients than those that are harvested early and sit on store shelves.
- You’ll support your local economy.
- You’ll reduce your carbon footprint by consuming foods that don’t first need to to be transported, sometimes across countries or continents.
- You’ll eat foods that are naturally tastier, harvested in their prime, which may increase your desire to eat healthfully.
A seasonal diet does not have to be all or nothing. You can do your best to procure local, seasonal foods and supplement the rest with year-round supermarket items. Or if the concept of seasonal eating is entirely new, you can continue purchasing your food as you always have, with the added treat of finding one or two local, seasonal foods that you start to work into your rotation.
If you have a local farmer’s market or food co-op, that’s the best place to start to find locally grown and properly harvested foods. Even if you don’t, check with local natural health providers or search Facebook for farms that may sell their products directly to you.
Today’s Simple Step
Search social media or the internet for local food markets, co-ops, or farms where you can buy local, seasonal food.
This Simple Cauliflower Mash is a great way to enjoy a healthy, low-carb vegetable that is in season during the winter months. Mashed cauliflower pairs well with almost any main dish. Add your favorite herbs and plenty of grass-fed butter for a warm and comforting side dish.