TEN BENEFITS OF EATING SEASONALLY
There is no doubt about it, the local food movement is growing! Its gaining in popularity for so many great reasons too, for political reasons, personal health and of course to help benefit the environment, goodness knows it needs all the help it can get. If interested in the subject or even new to the idea read on for a little extra inspiration!
1. Optimal Nutrition
If you are looking for the best quality for your diet, produce needs to be fresh! Eating seasonally is the very be way to be assured that we are getting the most nutrients as possible from our food. Produce can lose nutrients quite quickly, especially those energy producing B vitamins, simply from just sitting out on our counters. Some foods are shipped from several countries away, so it really is hard to say what percentage is left for supporting our health. Many transported crops are also picked before harvest so again we are only getting a fraction of what these foods potentially contain. Shopping seasonally, preferably organic whenever we can we can be assured of the very best levels of nutrients possible! Better yet, perhaps consider a little vegetable garden of your own? I highly recommend giving it a try! Nothing beats being able to walk out your back door and nourish yourself with something picked fresh. Once you taste the difference, I’m sure you will want to try again the following year. That subject alone can work wonders for our health on so many levels!
There is just no arguing the fact, fresh food tastes better! If you are having a hard time making a case for fresh veg for your family get them to the market! By choosing to purchase fresh in season produce you might just win them over! Also keep in mind some people prefer a fresh raw carrot over a steamed one any day and there is nothing wrong with that. Buying fresh delicious fruits and vegetables whenever possible is always a helpful way to help encourage everyone gets those daily servings in!
3. Better for the Environment
Most of us now know that anytime we need to travel a distance or catch a plane we can blow our entire carbon footprint budget for the year. Just think about what buying apples from New Zealand or lemons from Africa can do then! When we choose to buy local, organic, seasonal produce we cut down on pollution in a huge way. If we buy from smaller farms dedicated to organic productions even more so.
4. Supports a Healthy Immune System
Its pretty wonderful to know that the earth takes care of our needs on so many levels. Eating seasonally also serves to strengthen our Immune system. Just stop and consider the abundance of late summer and early fall. Vitamin C and antioxidant rich berries, vitamin A rich winter squash and dark greens. Vitamin A nourishes the protective lining throughout our bodies and increases our body’s ability to heal and repair. And think of all the powerful immune enhancing mushrooms the forests offer up, rich in B vitamins, amino acids, trace minerals and even vitamin D! They are pure magic! Foods allowed to ripen naturally also help to increase communication between our environment and our body’s needs. Natural foods allowed to mature contain properties to resist mold, fight disease and contain higher levels of nutrients and precious phytonutrients. If we constantly eat foods harvested too soon and shipped from far off lands, we miss out on so much of Nature’s protective properties! Next time you are out walking your local forest trail do stop a minute and eat a fresh berry if you get the chance, in fact there’s a good chance you are warding off this season’s flu!
5. Becoming “In Tune”
I think it’s safe to say for many of us life can get so busy that it can be difficult to hear what we really need. We’ve probably all heard the phrase it’s important to listen to our body, but it isn’t always easy to do so. By adopting a simple lifestyle and learning to eat what’s in season we can strengthen our ability to listen to what our body’s needs are in a very basic and natural way. Eating foods that are available for us for that specific time of year supports our body by providing nutrients needed for that season as well as gets us in tune with Nature. By observing the season, it also increases our appreciation for our surroundings and that too helps us to absorb nutrients optimally. I see so many struggle with trying to find the perfect diet to suit all needs, a forever diet but as the seasons change so do our needs. Cooling greens and fresh fruit for the warmer seasons of the spring and summer and roasted vegetables, quality grains and a little more oil in our diets for cooler seasons. Making subtle adjustments as the seasons change is truly one of the best ways to create harmony and vitality for many years to come.
6. Less Contamination
Food that has been transported from far off lands certainly do contain their fair share of risk factors! For all sorts of reasons too. Some countries agriculture practices may not be as regulated. For example, some overseas countries may not do regular soil and water testing like we do here in Canada. One would not want to buy produce from an industrial area that may also contain toxic heavy metals and other contaminants. Water practices also need to be regularly inspected and aren’t always done.Transported foods are often irradiated, bleached and sprayed with numerous chemicals. Some to prolong shelf life and some to kill off hitchhiking critters. Although once I do remember the produce manager at my local grocery store getting pretty excited about the huge Ecuadorian spider he found in the bananas!While many of those assaults on our foods happen in far off lands in recent years perhaps more worrisome is the genetically modifying of the foods being done closer to home. By buying food from people we know and trust or at the very least we can inquire about and buying organic we can avoid these foods too. Genetically modified foods have been shown to damage the digestive system and are always best to avoid just as you would the plague!
When one commits to a simple, whole foods diet and really starts to focus on what's readily available for that time of year, surprisingly a whole new world can open up! Make a fun little game of it and try something new once a week. Your produce manager can guide you to what's fresh for that time of year and you might even inspire some fun family involvement!
Again, once you commit to quality over quantity you may just find you actually spend less. Packaged foods need to be processed and marketed to the consumer so of course costs go up. When we opt to buy in season, whole foods instead things just become simple! Roasted or steamed vegetables, fresh salads, simple soups; food begins to support and satisfy your body's needs. Give it a try for even just one week and you will feel better and save money as well.
9. Supports and Nourishes your Community
As a farmer’s market vendor during the summer myself I know firsthand what it means to support our family in this way. The community can nourish the farmer in more ways than they realize too. From friendly interactions and encouragement, these relationships really are appreciated by hard working families. Of course, supporting our families through farming is helpful on a practical level there is just something so fulfilling about taking a seed, caring for it and sending the fruits of your labor out there for the community to benefit from. The whole exchange is just so positive! The Farmers Markets are an example of this relationship for sure. People get to meet with friends & family, pick up appreciated supplies and just get back to the basics of living. Getting to know where our food comes from, tips on how to prepare it and the exchange of gratitude’s is I’m sure far more nourishing than we could ever possibly know!
10. Home cooking!
So, if you've already picked up all your fresh fruit and vegetables for the week ahead there is just one thing left to do with it! Bring it home and cook it! Cooking food and sharing with our loved ones is one of the very best and meaningful ways to improve the overall quality of our life. The activity involved in preparing the meals, the aromas that fill the air and the anticipation of my family, I love every bit of it! Did you know one of the most powerful contributing factors to our longevity is having a healthy social life and surrounding ourselves with our loved ones? I can't think of a better way to enjoy our time together then by sharing a delicious meal with my family! Supporting communities near to me with similar values makes it even better!
Sarah Hooff CHN, CSNC
See below links for additional resources on what’s in season near you!https://www.ontario.ca/foodland/page/availability-guidehttp://www.weheartlocalbc.ca/in-season/