For the vast majority of human existence, “seasonal eating”
did not exist as a concept—it was simply called “eating”
and there was no alternative. People ate what was in season because the
earth naturally provided what it provided at specific times of the year.
However, the rise of a global economy, industrialized agriculture, and
increased transportation capability meant that growing and shipping food
around the world became possible. As a result, many foods are available
year round that were once only available during certain times of the year.
However, availability does not necessarily indicate that the food you’re
eating is good quality. Studies indicate that industrial agriculture,
which tends to farm for quantity and focus solely on the same variety
of crop every year, affects the quality of soil, and thus the quality
of food. One study from the Journal of American College of Nutrition,
as reported by
, found a measurable decline in nutrients in 43 different fruits and vegetables
between 1999 and 1950.
Why Eat Seasonal?
As a result, the benefits of eating seasonally (and locally) are more crucial
now more than ever. One of the major benefits of eating seasonally is
that fruits and vegetables are at their peak nutrient level when they
are harvested at their natural ripening point. Food that is harvested
weeks prior to ripening in order to deliver it thousands of miles will
be far less nutritious than food that was harvested only hours before
you bought it at a farmer’s market. If you do not have access to
a local farmer’s produce, studies indicate that frozen fruits and
vegetables (which are frozen at their ripening point) keep most of their
nutrients far more effectively than the “fresh” produce available
at the supermarket.
Eating seasonally also has the benefit of giving you a varied diet. Varied
diets are not only nutritionally beneficial (providing your body with
what it needs throughout the year), but the taste and quality of food
is at its best in season. Oranges are juicer, artichokes have deeper flavor,
peaches have their trademark sweetness. Instead of eating a withered,
artificially ripened strawberry in winter, enjoying a winter fruit like
a grapefruit would taste far better, be far healthier, and would make
the arrival of spring strawberries a genuine treat. Ultimately, eating
seasonally makes each season a unique dietary experience and it makes
the passage of time meaningful and distinct from harvest to harvest.
Apricots – These small, plum-like fruits contain carotene, which promotes
healthy vision. It also contains minerals like potassium, zinc, and calcium.
Cherries – High in antioxidants, these sweet fruits are at their best for
a short window in late spring and early summer. Their properties can help
defend your body against infection and inflammation and can even help
your body recover faster.
Citrus Fruits (Oranges, Lemons, Pineapple, etc.) – Citrus foods, besides being sharp and sweet, help dissolve kidney
stones and promote health through vitamin C, which can help safeguard
you against infection. Eat citrus fruits and boost your immune system!
Strawberries – These popular, sweet, and tart fruits contain vitamins that help
the body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats while possessing
other benefits that prevent cancer and neurological diseases.
Artichokes – With a deep, earthy taste, artichokes also help reduce cholesterol
synthesis and can lower the amount of cholesterol in your blood. They
also contain antioxidants, which help prevent infection.
Asparagus – At their peak in spring, asparagus is high in iron and vitamins
B & C. Be sure to eat these soon after harvest because they lose nutrients quickly!
Beets – With a rich reddish-purple color, beets are best from winter to
early spring. Their color indicates their benefit: beets contain a chemical
that helps prevent heart disease.
Peas – This category includes snow peas, sweet peas, and fava beans.
These are at their peak from mid-spring to mid-summer, and are a great
source of plan protein.
Leeks – This delicious root vegetable has vitamins that promote healthy
growth, reduce blood pressure, and help lower cholesterol levels.
Lamb’s Lettuce – Most lettuces, although available year round, are at their most
delicious, nutritious, and tender during the spring.
Radishes – Like many other root vegetables, radishes are low in calories
and provide a great deal of vitamin C, and also contain antioxidants and
a number of other vitamins.
Rhubarb – Although it is a vegetable that resembles a red celery stalk,
the acidity and sweetness of rhubarb means it is often treated like a
fruit. It’s rich in B vitamins and has very little caloric content.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a seasonal item today and enjoy all that
nature has to offer!
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.