Seasonal eating is an interesting topic. My family has done seasonal eating, canning, and preserves for years, and generations before me did the same in order to store nutritious food for the winter. But did you know you can eat seasonally year-round and you might be better off for it?
Last week I wrote about making the most out of your farmer’s market trip, so I wanted to back up and talk about the benefits of eating seasonally because some people may not realize that eating seasonally can really benefit your health and the local economy.
A lot of this might be a repeat of last week, but I’ll try to focus on the health benefits and the research.
The Rodale Institute is an organization dedicated to the promotion of organic farming through education of the public, training farmers, and research on organics. They are a great resource for finding relevant and reliable information about organics and local produce.
They posted a great article about why local produce is better for you with some research from Montclair University about the decomposition of nutrients in food after its harvested.
Montclair University found that when broccoli was harvested at two different times of the year (spring and fall), that the Vitamin C levels varied by up to 50%. This means that if you’re buying broccoli in the spring vs the fall that you’ll only get half of the Vitamin C you would get than if you bought broccoli in the fall.
And that’s just one study.
There’s also some evidence that eating seasonally is more sustainable than traditional eating practices, but it shouldn’t be used in lieu of decreasing meat consumption or reducing water usage, according to the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health and Aberdeen University.
So, incorporating in-season produce with your regular diet can be better for the earth and provide a higher concentration of nutrients to your body.
How to Eat seasonally
There’s a few ways to eat seasonally and the resources are pretty easy to use.
Seasonal Food Guide, lets you choose your region of the United States and the time of year you’re currently in or are coming into, and then will show you which produce will be available locally from farmers during that time of the year, so that you can take advantage year-round.
Don’t Be Afraid to can, freeze, or store your produce
If you want strawberries or other not-in-season produce available throughout the year (that’s still almost as healthy as fresh picked, you can learn to can or pickle certain vegetables. You can freeze berries and other fruits, or you can store squashes and other root vegetables in a cool, dry place.
This method takes a little more time, but that means that you can have more of those in-season fruits and vegetables even when they’re not.
This is also a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family. If your family did some traditional canning or freezing (mine always did). We would take a whole day to can tomatoes for sauce, freeze corn, make up hot peppers, can pickles, and freeze berries. Then we would have all these great things throughout the winter and it was cheaper for everyone all around because we would buy in bulk.
If you’re looking to add seasonal produce to your diet, don’t be afraid to get creative. Mix up a traditional soup recipe or add the produce to your next salad. Find recipes that include that fruit or vegetable and try them out. Have a harvest party with your friends. There’s so much you can do here.
The key here is to plan and to have fun with your cooking.
What produce is in season near you right now?
Go in love and light,