No matter the season or time of year, eating right and staying healthy can be a challenge. With today’s busy and hectic lifestyle, one of the biggest obstacles facing many families is to know when fresh seasonal food is available. In this post, I would like to share with you the benefits of eating seasonally and not just regionally.
If you eat seasonally, you are on the lookout for fresh seasonally available food, while eating regionally you are looking for foods that are simply within your region. Eating seasonally is more important than eating regionally because you eat food when it is at the height of freshness. So let’s take a closer look at how to get the most out of seasonal eating.
Know the Harvest Cycle of Your Food
The first step is to seek out foods that are grown locally and are in season. Did you know that nutrient content of food may change from season to season? For example, according to a 1997 study conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food in London, England reported there are significant differences in nutrient levels between summer and winter pasteurized milk. The researchers reported the difference in nutrients was primary due to the diet of the cows.
During the winter months, the cows used in the study ate more salt-preserved foods, while during the warm summer months they ate fresh plants. This is significant information to know and you should learn how to offset if you’re looking to eat healthy year-round.
A study conducted on spinach grown in Japan reported a three-fold difference of the vitamin C content of spinach harvested during the summer months when compared to spinach harvested during the winter months. Eating seasonally also you to get the most nutrients possible.
Seasonal Eating Guide
When you’re eating food that is off season, try to offset the seasonal loss of vital nutrients. For example, when eating spinach during the winter months, consider also drinking more orange juice or adding some vitamin C to your diet from another source to offset the potential lower levels of vitamin C found in the spinach. Talk with your doctor or health care provider before you make any changes to your regular diet.
Of course, different parts of the world offer different seasons so talk with local farmers to see what is in season. Maybe you live in the city and don’t have access to a farming community, it doesn’t matter. If you’re unsure, maybe your friends, neighbors and co-workers is they know what is in season locally.
Quick Guide for Seasonal Eating:
- Spring: Look for leafy vegetables during this time of the year. Look to enjoy spinach, wild leeks, romaine lettuce and other herbs.
- Summer: Fresh fruit like tart cherries, strawberries, summer squash and any other type of fruit. Load up while you are the summer farmer’s market. You can always freeze any of the extra fruit to enjoy later in the year. Also, during this time of the year look for fruitceuticals. A fruitceutical is when a fruit offers both nutritional benefits as well as condition-specific health benefits. For example, a tart cherry is a natural source for potassium and offers condition-specific benefits of its ability to fight inflammation and pain in the joints.
- Fall: Look for earthly type of vegetables like corn, carrots, onions and potatoes. Also, seek out seasonings mustard seeds. In addition, during fall and early winter season, seek out fish like salmon from California. It is during this time is the salmon season on the west coast.
- Winter: Enjoy free-range animal and fish-type of foods. Enjoy beef, chicken and salmon. Think turkey for Thanksgiving or ham for Easter. Also, when are deer the fattest? It is during the fall. The reason is the animals have been gouging themselves all summer long on plants. Another benefit, meat can be frozen and enjoyed during the summer grilling season.
Finally, prices tend to be lower when the food is in season. The reason is the market is overstocked with a particular food so the prices drop to move the product.
- Igarashi O. The Significance of the Issuance of the 5th Revision of the Japanese Standard Tables of Food Components on Study and Research on Vitamins and Diseases. 36th Vitamin Information Center Press Seminar. Tokyo, Japan. 2001.
- FruitCeutical Handbook
- Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Nutrient analysis of liquid pasteurized milk. Food Surveillance Information Sheets, Number 128. 1997.
About: Andy LaPointe is an avid writer and in-demand speaker on the condition-specific health benefits of fruit and vegetables. He is the owner of Traverse Bay Farms. His company has won 23 national awards and is the #1 award winning super fruit company in America. Traverse Bay Farms offers a complete selection for fruit-based solutions including cherry juice, cherry capsules, wild blueberry juice concentrate and more.