If, on a hot summer day, you can’t stop eyeing that hunk of watermelon; or you start craving pumpkin spiced treats in October, you’re eating with a seasonal mind. It’s just intuitive! Holistic medicine and science agree, seasonal eating promotes overall well-being, helps fight infection and may act as a natural whole body cleanse.
This theory has existed for many years in both Indian and Chinese medicine. As the weather shifts, animals behave differently; they eat according to what they can find. Humans used to follow the same pattern but with the ability to preserve fresh foods by canning, drying & freezing, we are able to enjoy most foods in any season. Researchers studying the underlying effects of seasonal eating have found that there is an increase in vitamins and antioxidants in the seasonal fare that isn’t matched by out of season harvest.
Summer: During these hot and humid days, think bright colors. Summer foods tend to be colorful reds, pinks, yellows and blues – and tend to be sweet! Staying hydrated in these summer months is important so choose water-filled vegetables and fruits to add to your meals! Berries and melons are fairly low in carbohydrates – add them to salads topped with plenty of protein. Don’t forget about the herbs in your garden – basil, mint, cilantro, parsley and sage!
Fall: Welcome to harvest time! Ancient Chinese medicine believed that the body contracts and begins cooling in preparation for the winter. You will find yellow and gold foods in abundance. Root vegetables and squash (carrots, beets, pumpkins, butternut & acorn squash) are hearty, filling and warming! Cooking methods like baking and roasting are best since these hearty root vegetables can stand up to them, don’t forget to season- sage, thyme, and rosemary are fresh!
Winter: With frost in the air, the end of the seasons is in sight! Carrots, turnip, kale, and collard greens are just picked in these cold months! They are perfect for roasting and stewing with warm spices like cinnamon, curry and turmeric. Even though we don’t think of meat as seasonal because our stores are always fully stocked, it is seen as the most warming of foods due to its high nutrient density.
Spring: With increased sunlight, our tastes reach out to fresher foods. Tender foods like sprouts, greens, asparagus, and chards are back! Steaming and grilling your fresh finds will preserve the flavor of these light vegetables!
Tips & Tricks:
• Look for reasonably priced produce in the supermarket. In-season prices are lower than out-of- season prices.
• Think back to seasonal childhood favorites. There’s a reason why Mom always fed you melon in the summer, pumpkin in the fall and beef and barley stew in the winter.
• Visit your Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning!
Contributed by Lindsey Bryan, CFWLS Summer Extern