There are many benefits to eating with the seasons.
In the fall and winter, foods that provide warmth and carbohydrates such as carrots, potatoes, pumpkins, cabbages, onions, and winter squash will provide vitamins to boost the body’s germ fighting ability and strengthen the immune system for the cold and flu season. These vegetables store well in cool, dark places. The added carbohydrates will help to insulate against the cold weather throughout the season. Adding fish to your diet during this time of year provides beneficial calories and increased levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D found in cold water fish is essential for maintaining mental health and a strong immune system. Nuts, which also store well in the winter, are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids. This adds moisture to the body from the inside out. Our milk can be different in the winter compared to the summer. The nutritional content of pasteurized milk changes with the diet of the cow. Research has shown that iodine levels of milk are higher in the winter and beta carotene higher in the summer.
Our bodies are pretty smart and we associate certain foods during certain times of the year for good reason. The natural cycle of produce is perfectly designed to support our health. When we eat with the seasons, we are constantly rotating our diet so we receive an assortment of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Apples grow in the fall and are the perfect transition food from the warm summer to the winter cool down. In the spring, the abundance of leafy greens helps us to alkalize, detoxify and lose some extra pounds after a long winter of heavier foods. In the summer, we cool down and stay hydrated by eating more fruits, berries, cucumber, watermelon and the like. Building a lifestyle around seasonal food facilitates the body’s natural healing process.
Food grown outside its season or natural environment needs a lot more human intervention in the form of pesticides, waxes, chemicals and preservatives to grow and look appealing to consumers. The vitamins and minerals contained in produce begin to decrease the minute the food is picked. By the time the food arrives at your local grocery store, it may be several weeks old! By choosing local and seasonal food, you get a cleaner and healthier product.
If you are fortunate enough to have the space to grow at least some of your own food, it can help a great deal with the food budget. Make jam when berries are at their ripest and in the fall, can sauces from tomatoes. When there is an abundance of a product, the prices go down. Seasonal food is much cheaper to produce for the farmer. Cash in on the seasonal bounty when you can.
Hang in there, Vermonters. It won’t be too long before we taste those first fresh greens of spring.