Yup, you guessed it. Seasonal eating indicates eating foods that correspond to the natural shift of the seasons. This means eating fruits and vegetables that grow at specific times of the year according to where you live.
Though this may be unfamiliar territory to many, this is not a new way of eating. In fact, it was the only way of eating before we started importing foods from other countries and eating the same foods all year round.
Seasonal eating is a great way to support your health as your body's needs also change with the seasons.
You may find yourself more inclined towards smoothies and salads in the summertime versus soups and stews in the winter. This is a normal physiological response as your body will naturally shift towards different types of foods as the seasons change.
As we officially approach winter our palate will naturally crave more rich, heavy, and warm dishes to support the body's transition into the colder temperatures. So don't worry if you don't feel like a kale salad or smoothie right now, you may want to go for the soup or curry instead!
What are the benefits of seasonal eating?
Reduces your carbon footprint
When you buy seasonal produce that is local your food doesn't have to travel long distances to reach you, thus reducing your carbon footprint. Buying seasonal and local produce helps to reduce pollution and also support more eco-friendly farming practices such as lowered pesticide use and rotating crops. Supporting local growers is a great way to vote with your dollars and minimize your environmental impact.
Supports local farmers
When you buy from local farmers you also support a small business and the growth of your community. These are commonly small family-owned growers that rely on consumers like you to support their families. This not only makes you feel better but you also get the opportunity to develop a relationship with the farmers and get to know their practices. Shop at farmer's markets, food co-ops, or join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) to support farmers in your local community.
Enhances the flavor of the food
Local food means the food is picked at its peak of ripeness and delivered to you fairly quickly, preserving freshness and taste. When food is shipped from across the country (or continent) and stored in bins for days or weeks it loses its flavor fairly quickly.
In addition, when you buy seasonal produce from local farms you are also more likely to find a variety of fruits and vegetables which you may not find at your supermarket.
Once you begin to eat seasonal and local products you'll immediately notice the difference with imported foods, and you won't want to do it any other way!
It retains the nutritional content
Foods grown out of season have been shown to produce less nutrition than foods grown in season. For instance, a study looked at the vitamin C content of broccoli grown during the fall months compared to summer and its fall values were almost twice as high as the broccoli grown in summer (2).
Many foods such as tomatoes and bananas that are picked out of season may be artificially ripened, using chemicals and gases to boost sales by improving their appearance. This affects the nutritional value and flavor profile while increasing toxin exposure (3).
Lowers your grocery costs
When you buy food from local growers you reduce distribution and transportation costs necessary for the produce to arrive via truck, ship, or plane at your local grocery store. Seasonal foods are also cheaper because they are found abundantly in nature during their peak season. Think about blueberries for instance. During the summer months, berries are sold everywhere at promotional prices because they are abundant, compared to winter months when their prices increase substantially. Paying attention to where your food is coming from and what is in season in your area is a great way to reduce food-related costs.
Supports your health
Our eating patterns also influence our health. For instance, our digestive cycle will change with the seasons as we may be able to tolerate raw and lighter foods during the summer and heavier foods like starches and grains in the wintertime.
This may be due in part to a shift in the microbiome population. It has been shown that the bacteria in the gut change with the seasons in response to temperature fluctuations and diet changes (1).
If you feel bloated and gassy with colder foods you may want to shift your diet to more warming and cooked foods to support your digestion and overall health.
Winter fruits and vegetables in season
How to incorporate seasonal vegetables into your diet
A stew is an easy way to make a delicious meal with seasonal vegetables that is both warming and comforting during the winter months. Don't have time to cook tonight? Dump everything into a crockpot and you'll come home to a meal ready to go, and a home smelling amazing!
Did you know you can add cooked vegetables to your smoothie? Zucchini, sweet potato and cauliflower are great examples of vegetables that can be included in your morning smoothie. Simply steam or roast the vegetables until they are well cooked and then freeze until you're ready to make your smoothie!
Yes, you read that right! Making your own chips is a great way to satisfy your crunch cravings while using up your seasonal vegetables. Simply chop up thin slices of root vegetables such as yam, sweet potato, or beets and cook in the oven with coconut oil, sea salt, and pepper for a great-tasting and nutritious snack.
There's nothing better than a warming soup on a cold winter's day! The best part? They can be so easy to make! Some great soup making vegetables include squash, pumpkin, and zucchini that also nourish and support healthy digestion.
Curries are the perfect winter food as they combine warming spices such as turmeric and ginger with a hearty meal. During the winter months, spices are a great addition to a meal to stimulate digestion and warm you up from the inside out!
You can add anything to baked goods these days! Baking with vegetables is a foolproof way to add more veggies into your diet, especially if you have kids. You can add vegetables like zucchini, pumpkin, or sweet potato, and they won't even know the difference!
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals