By Tina Paymaster, PHASE IV Functional Nutrition & Health Specialist
If you’re planning your menu for next week but not sure what to make, you may gain a little inspiration from heading to your local farmers market.
What you’ll find is a wide variety of seasonal produce that will transform the way you think about and prepare your food.
Animals eat seasonally year round. It’s a biological instinct to consume certain foods at certain times of the year. However, through the development of technologies such as transportation, refrigerators, freezers and microwaves, and the addition of preservatives and additives to food, we can now find winter squashes in the summer and summer berries in the winter.
Before global transportation, people didn’t know you could eat artichokes in the winter and sweet potatoes in the summer.
There are many benefits to sticking to a seasonal diet that will not only help you stay healthier, but also make your food taste better!
What does it mean to eat seasonally?
Eating seasonally means eating foods that naturally grow throughout the various seasons of the year. This means, more root vegetables and citrus in the fall and winter months and greens and berries during the spring and summer months.
6 BENEFITS OF EATING SEASONALLY
1. Seasonal produce tastes better
If you’ve ever bitten into a tomato that was incredibly juice, sweet and flavorful, you most likely ate it soon after it was picked off the vine. When fruits and vegetable are transported, they are usually picked before they are ripe and refrigerated so they don’t spoil. Then when they arrive at their destination, they are heated to artificially ripen them. This affects the flavor and texture of the produce which is why you can bite into an orange sometimes and miss the sweet, juicy flavor that makes it so delicious.
2. More nutritious
Produce that is eaten as close to when they were harvested not only taste better, but retain more nutrients too. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, folate and carotenes decline rapidly in fruits and vegetables the longer they are sitting around. In addition, many grocery stores buy up out of season produce that has been irradiated and preserved in wax to prolong shelf-life.
3. Supports your body’s needs
Fruits and vegetables that naturally grow in the winter such as citrus and sweet potatoes provide us with the Vitamin C and heaviness we need to warm our bodies and boost our immune systems. Think about the meals that are most popular during the winter holidays. They usually center around root vegetables and citrus and there’s good reason for it. In the spring in summer, nature provides a bounty of greens, berries, stone fruits, and lighter vegetables to help cleanse our body of the heaviness of the winter, protect our skin from sun damage and cool us down.
4. More variety
If you focus your meals around what’s in season, you won’t get bored with eating the same thing all year long. You will have access to a wider variety of foods and tastes making cooking and eating a lot more exciting!
5. Costs less
In season produce is easier to harvest in large quantities and when this happens the cost of it will typically go down due to the abundance. In addition, if you are fortunately enough to live in an area that has farmers markets where you can shop local, you may also find cheaper prices as the farmers don’t have to pay for travel and storage expenses for the fruits and vegetables.
6. Better for the environment
When there is a high demand for out of season produce, the fruits and vegetables have to be sourced from other places, increasing transportation, storage and irradiation needs – this increases pollution. If more people ate seasonally, there would be less demand for out of season produce, which would reduce the need for all of the above and therefore not only support our individual health, but the health of the planet and the livelihood of local farmers.
To stay in the know about what foods to purchase throughout the year, check out the US seasonal food guide here.
For more personalized nutrition support, schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our PHASE IV Nutrition Specialists. Call 310-582-8212