“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose, under heaven” . These are the lyrics from a classic song but maybe the idea applies to food as well. Eating seasonally is just another way to live a healthy lifestyle in harmony with nature’s bounty. This is not a new trend or a gimmicky weight loss scheme. It has been done for centuries and is practiced still today for is array of benefits.
Eating by the season is what our ancestors did before mega grocery stores dotted the landscape. Building your diet around what nature provides throughout the year has several advantages. First, produce allowed to fully ripen before being harvested will have improved flavor and increased nutrient density. A locally grown apple that has ripened naturally will be higher in vitamins and antioxidants than one picked prematurely and shipped from New Zealand to your hometown. Due to supply and demand, purchasing seasonal produce saves the consumer money.
One way to buy seasonally is to support the local farmer’s market. This also helps the environment by decreasing our carbon footprint and pollution from trucks hauling food from long distances. Food that is grown in the “off season” requires more “human” influence resulting in increased pesticide usage, waxes and chemicals to make them more appealing to us however not as healthy. Finally, nature has a way of supporting our nutritional needs based on what it produces and when. Ever wonder why produce containing more water like watermelons, berries and cucumbers are abundant in the heat of summer? They help us to increase our level of hydration when we need it most. The spring crops of leafy greens and other fibrous vegetables help us to detoxify and decrease weight gain from the long winter months. Apples, in the fall, are a simple transition food source that helps cool us down from the long hot summer.
As we head into a new season, consider making the commitment to eat only food that is in season. It will help you move outside your comfort zone and possibly try some new recipes. You will naturally increase your vitamin and antioxidant intake and reap those major health benefits as well. Here is an easy way to help you choose better produce-start by checking the item’s sticker/tag noting the country of origin and avoid those shipped from other countries. By doing a quick search on your computer, you can find listings for local farms and produce that is in season in your region making it easy to know where and what to buy. This is just one more way of implementing a small change that can have a BIG impact on your health and performance.