Seasonal Eating and Sweater Weather
I did not grow up in the Northeast, so the concept of Seasonal Eating was a tad foreign to me as a kid from a beach town in Central California, where things tended to be rather seasonless. It was either raining or it wasn’t. Most of the time it wasn’t raining but my ability to take a 3 minute shower is a blog for another day.
There are many benefits to 4 true seasons, for example we have excuses to have different wardrobes, reasons to have coats for when it is raining and it is hot or raining and it is cold. I could go on and on about sweater weather or how all of my black boots are needed. Some are shorties, others rain, some snow, others formal, another casual…
I also discovered what the heck a mud room was when I moved to the NYC suburbs, it is a room in ones house usually a back entrance into which you would walk with muddy, wet, and/or dirty shoes/clothes/pets. Brilliant!! In California, I remember just dragging sandy clothes and boogie boards into the garage and I am sure my Mom would grudgingly handle whatever mess I left.
Seasonal eating is also a benefit of 4 seasons, but it can also be used in an area without such distinct seasons. So what the heck is Seasonal eating? Seasonality of food refers to the times of year when the harvest or the flavor of a given type food is at its peak. This is usually the time when the item is the cheapest and the freshest on the market. The food’s peak harvest time usually coincides with when its flavor is at its best.
Seasonal eating also refers to the locality of the food being consumed, this point is very important, and many of us do not like this so we tend to pretend to ignore it. For me as a woman living in the Northeast in January to be eating cantaloupe that was cut 3 weeks ago in South America and put on a truck, then a cargo ship, and finally a truck to my local Stop N Shop. Is a bad choice because it is not serving my body as well as locally harvested apple from New Paltz, New York, I purchased from a farmers market from the growers. Our bodies are very much attune to our surroundings and for us to be consuming foods from other parts of the world is not the healthiest choice given the climate.
We know such much more about our food supply and our bodies than we did in the 90s and there isn’t any reason to eat the same produce all year long. In fact there are very good reasons to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each season. To find out which vegetables are in season where you live, the link is at the bottom of the blog.
Seasonal food tastes better. Food that has been picked or harvested a few days ago will taste better because it is fresher. Compare this to fruit picked weeks or even months ago. Let’s use the cantaloupe as an example. How do we think it tasted? How did it look?
Eating seasonal foods are cheaper. The less miles on food, the less expensive is for the consumer. Let’s go back to the cantaloupe from Stop N Shop. Think about how many people had to handle it in order for it to get from the tree to my plate. Each time an employee has to be a part of production, the price to the consumer increases. The apples I bought from the grower, were either picked by an employee or the actual grower. For the cantaloupe, we cut out the dock workers, the teamsters, the produce manager, the bag boy….
Seasonal eating actually helps the environment. Purchasing local foods and eating within the seasons helps to protect our planet. You’re reducing the number of miles your food has to travel before it reaches your plate, and this helps to reduce the amount of fuel used and prevents pollutant gases from going into the atmosphere. Buying local, organic, seasonally grown produce protects the environment in which we live in. Think of the cantaloupe vs. the apples. You want food with less stamps on their passport.
Seasonal foods can be more nutritious. Foods that are in season and available locally offer a higher nutritional value than those that are out of season. In other words, the more local the food is, the less time it has spent being transported to you and the more nutrients and vitamins it’s likely to have retained since being harvested. Eating seasonal foods will support your body’s natural healing and cleaning abilities. For example, spring season offers lots of tasty greens like spring onions, watercress and asparagus.
Eating seasonally and locally adds variety. You find yourself and down the fruit and vegetable aisle at the grocery store and you notice Brussels sprouts, turnips and leeks, but wait a minute, its summer and these vegetables aren’t in season. We’ve become so accustomed to eating what we want when we want that it’s difficult to picture a time when you couldn’t buy peaches in January or Brussels sprouts in August. Once you start eating seasonally and locally, you will start to be exposed to fruits and vegetables not necessarily in your current rotation, which is a good thing. Joining a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture group can help introucte you to locally grown vegetables. When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. You might find yourself with more persimmons than you know what to do with, but you will can get creative. The link is below to your local CSA network.