Seasonal eating is en vogue. Between the coveted White House vegetable garden, numerous food-related books, and sustainable restaurant menus, our world is being re-educated on how eating locally grown, in-season foods is beneficial for the planet, your health, and your wallet.
Historically, eating with the seasons was the only survival option humans had. After the invention of grocery stores, industrialized America gradually transitioned to importing foods from all climates and locations to fill our market shelves simply for convenience and profit. Today it is still estimated that on average the typical American meal contains ingredients from at least five countries outside the United States.1
Here are some convincing reasons to get back to nature and to follow the trend of eating local, seasonally grown foods:
Better for you. Seasonal foods generally have more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals than foods harvested before they are ripe and shipped long distances. Nature lets us know food is ripe and ready with bright colors and fragrant smells.
Better tasting. When produce is picked from the tree or vine at the perfect time, not only is nutrition at its peak, but the flavor is as well. We have all had the unsavory experience of biting into an un-ripened fruit.
Good for the environment. Shopping from local farms means we cut down on pollution from transportation methods by air, water, and land. Overall, we significantly reduce our carbon footprint by reducing our food miles.
Support of the local economy. Buying locally means you are supporting our small farmers. Local farms need our money to continue production. Often due to contractual obligations, the local chain stores do not stock from our small local farms.
Saves you money. When you buy what’s in season, those foods are in abundance. The costs are much less for farmers to harvest and distribute.
An ancient healing tradition. Seasonal eating has been a cornerstone of several ancient and holistic medical traditions, such as Ayurveda, which views it as essential to health and emotional balance. Science backs what most holistic practitioners believe: the body naturally craves seasonal foods.2
The best way to start a seasonal diet is to shop at your local farmers’ markets or food co-op. Developing a relationship with farmers offers opportunities to discover the care they have for their farms. Often, local farmers cannot afford to go through the certification process for organic, yet many harvest under the strict organic standards. Organic or not, most nutrients begin to degrade the moment a fresh piece of produce is picked; so the sooner it gets to you, the better.
Additionally, consider joining your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSA allows residents to have direct access to the produce grown by regional farmers. These local crops are distributed for weekly pick-ups near you. These markets and programs are ideal ways to get exposed to an extensive variety of local produce, ensuring optimal nutrition.
You can obtain a list of seasonal foods in your area at www.sustainabletable.org. For dates and locations for our local farmer’s markets, visit: http://www.certifiedfarmersmarkets.org/
Tiffany is a certified nutrition consultant and functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner and can be reached at (760) 285.1221. For more information visit TiffanyDalton.net.
References: 1) https://food-hub.org/files/resources/Food%20Miles.pd; 2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236229/