All you need to know about Seasonal Eating
Each year, our surroundings are affected by set patterns determined by geographical forces. We know these patterns as seasons. Naturally, when our surroundings change, we need to make certain changes in our daily patterns; diet being one of them. Scientifically, each season is associated with different elements and foods that will strengthen your health. For example, As the cooler weather sets in, we are more susceptible to dryness―dry throats, noses, and chapped lips. To keep our bodies from becoming too dry, eating more sour flavours, which include apples, grapefruit, and lemons is preferred. Many of us naturally make this transition from salads to soups and stews, although we may not realise that it’s to help support the immune system and fend off colds and flu.With this extent of advancement, today, We get what we wish to eat and when we wish to eat. Even though this sounds like a dream come true, it is important to realise the importance of eating seasonal foods when they are available rather than opting for off-season foods. The foods that are available to us round the clock are made available through various processes like cold storage and cannot even be compared to foods that are freshly produced. Off-season foods have to travel much longer as compared to seasonal fruits and vegetables, well over 1,000 miles, to reach the local markets. This leads to higher amounts of wax coatings, preservatives and ripening agents in order to make them look fresh and healthy. Also, the longer the food stays unconsumed, the more nutrients it will lose. For instance, spinach and green beans lose two-thirds of their vitamin-C within a week of harvest. So, imagine adding the time of transportation and the shelf-life if you buy these products off-season. Aligning your eating habits with the time of year is not only good for your health and the environment, but also easy on your tastebuds and wallet.
1. Seasonal foods are tastier
The fundamental flavour of any food item is mainly determined by its freshness. When fruits and vegetables are consumed according to the season in which they are harvested, they tastier, as they are more ripe, fresh and flavourful.
2. Great for the Environment
When you eat seasonally, your dependence upon local produce and local farmers increases thereby supporting them. At the same time, the need for transportation, refrigeration, and hot houses comes down making seasonal foods environment friendly.
3. Easy on your wallet
When you eat off-season foods, you tend to pay more for foods that are not even half as nutritious as they are supposed to be. When something is produced in an area at the time when it is in season there, the cost of the food will automatically go down since the farmer spends no money on transportation and storage.
4. Higher Nutrition content
When foods are made to produce as opposed to the forces of nature, the production of the same calls for use of various pesticides, chemicals, artificial growth fertilisers etc. This hampers the organic nutrition content of fruits and vegetables. Further, there is also a risk of contamination when fruits and vegetables are produced, stored and transported artificially.
5. Better strength and digestion
When you eat according to the season, your digestive system is in harmony with the nature. In winters, our body demands fruits and vegetables that are high in citrus and Vitamin-C. These are important for preventing infections that you are prone to in winters. Winter vegetables are perfect for hot meals and soups. Similarly, the fruits and vegetables in summers are usually very watery in order to keep the body rejuvenated and hydrated. Seasonal eating is just a method to ensure your body gets the nutrients it required, when it requires them.
How to incorporate Seasonal eating-
In summer, it is better to consume lighter meals and cooling foods. Berries like strawberries, blueberries and other fruits such as watermelons, cantaloupes, apples, pears, plum, nectarines and peaches that will delight young and old are great for this season. Vegetables are abundantly available such as squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and corn; as well as cooling spices and seasonings like mint and cilantro.
Since monsoons are humid and soggy, food grains like wheat and barley, along with butter, ghee, milk and honey would be the appropriate diet for monsoons. All kinds of junk food, salads and heavy oils like mustard oil, other heating oils and peanut oil should be avoided during this wet season.
There are certain foods, which should not be consumed during the winters like one should avoid dry, cold, light food in excess. Spices like black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and cloves should be included in the diet. It is recommended to have plenty soups and stews during this season.
Seasonal eating has a lot of benefits and should be followed by everyone. It is a simple way of working with the nature harmoniously. It has been advocated in ancient Chinese medicine as well Ayurveda. Refer to this easy guide to adhere to seasonal eating and stay Balanced!