Awareness

Eating with the Seasons

Last night I finished a book titled “Plenty,” about a Canadian couple who decide to eat only food that has been grown within 100 miles of them for one year. It doesn’t sound too terrible to accomplish, however most of us are very immune to what local (and therefore seasonal) eating is really like. Over the year, the couple not only discover A LOT about what all is grown (and NOT grown) in their area around Vancouver, but it forces perspective on what we take for granted in our modern day lives.

 

The beauty and beast of grocery stores is that we have most produce available all year round because somewhere around the world, it’s in season. Globalization of food allows it to be this way. Partially great, partially not so great.

 

What better than the first day of spring to talk about why eating with the seasons is incredibly good for you!

 

Eating seasonally often is tied with eating local (since your season is based on locale) so a lot of these benefits cross those blurred lines:

 

Food tastes better

 

For a food to be in season, it means that the growing conditions are ideal which leads to a better crop and harvest. This creates a food at it’s peak flavor. Added bonus: these foods don’t need much doctoring when it comes to cooking because they already taste phenomenal as is!

 

Food is more nutritious

 

Once a food is plucked from it’s stem or roots, it begins to deteriorate and lose it’s nutritional value. Since your in season, local food doesn’t have far to go before it hits your plate, more of this nutrition stays in tact.

 

Food is cheaper

 

When a food is in season, more of it is being supplied. Basic supply and demand principle of economics dictate that the more supply there is, the lower the price. Yay for cheaper, better tasting, more nutritious food!

 

Eat more diverse foods throughout the year

 

Do you ever go through those phases of, well I like this meal and it’s easy to make so I’ll eat it until I get sick of it? I do too, I get it. But being more mindful about eating with the seasons can help combat this by forcing you to switch up what you cook with. It’s also a great way to force yourself to try new foods.

 

Less negative environmental impact

 

Did you know your average plate of food travels between 1500 and 2500 miles before landing at the grocery store? Even things that are grown nearby, can get sent to a distributor that’s far away, only to be shipped back again to a store that wasn’t that far from the source in the first place. That’s crazy (wasteful)! When you buy local, this means less CO2 emissions from significantly reduced transportation requirements.

 

Supporting your local economy

 

Especially if you’re buying from a farmers market your money goes directly back to the people growing your food. When you buy at the store, you’re paying the grocery store, distributor, transportation to get to each part of this supply chain, and the farmer gets a smaller cut. So if you ever thought farmers markets were “too expensive,” I invite you to look at what expensive means to you. Your dollar has a bigger impact on the world than you think.

 

Small, local businesses employ the majority of employees in the US (estimated 60-80%!!). Giving your money to these types of firms turns into paychecks that get sent home to the majority of people working in this country. Bigger paychecks mean more money being spent in our economy which is one (very strong) signal of economic growth.

 

You reconnect to the world around you

 

We have become so disconnected to what the Earth does for us as humans. It feeds us and inhabits us. I’m of the belief this is why we’ve managed to treat it so poorly. Coming back in sync with our own environment puts us back in the natural flow of an ecosystem and ourselves. Think it’s coincidence that citrus is in season over our winter? Not so much – it’s the vitamin-C found in citrus helps supports our immune system during cold winters when most people get sick. Look, mother nature doesn’t mess around, she knows what she’s doing. Listen to her!

 

Depending on where you are and your climate, what’s “in season” changes. Sustainable Table has this AWESOME seasonal food guide to help you figure out in your state what’s in season or when your favorite produce is best to buy.

 

Like everything in life, balance is key. I actually don’t recommend going by way of the Canadian couple in the book right off the bat, it’s what I might call an extreme (and those just never last). Just start paying attention. Visit the website above to see what’s in season right now in your state. And if you stop there, then you’re already heading in the right direction because at least you KNOW what’s in season.

 

 

Start small. Switch out one of your regular “non-seasonal” fruit or vegetable for one that is. Perhaps you’ll try something new you’ve never had before! Once you’ve seen the value of the in season, cheaper, better tasting, and better-for-you food, you can make more swaps in your grocery list.

 

 

Best way to keep up with seasonal eating? Go to a farmers market or sign up for a farmer’s market box (companies will select produce from local farmers and farmers markets, package them in a box and will deliver or you pick up from a specified location). What you find there is in season! Easy!

 

 

If you are shopping at a grocery store, pay attention to prices. Ever wonder why berries get more expensive in the winter but super cheap in the summer? Seasonality. Ask your grocer which produce comes from a local farmer (I’ve been noticing “Locally Grown” signs more and more at the big grocery chain Ralph’s here in SoCal which makes me VERY happy).

 

The first day of spring signifies rebirth, regrowth, renewal. So why not do a renewal of the way we view our food environment and how eating locally and of the season can help us become part of the naturally occurring ecosystem once again? Save money, save time, save the Earth, and yourself!