Eat Seasonal

So what does that mean?  I’m not saying make sure you eat food during every season.  Hopefully we all know that.  What I’m talking about is eating what is growing from the ground during that time of year, and the benefits of doing this are immeasurable.

Believe it or not, your body always knows what time of year it is.  Did you really think that it was just a coincidence that we tend to crave iced drinks, green salads, fresh fruits, and ice cream in the summer?  Or that when the cold of winter comes we passionately look forward to a nice hearty bowl of soup or stew with grounding root vegetables?  Not so much a coincidence.  This is our body telling us what it wants and essentially needs.

Where I live here in NYC it is easy to eat virtually whatever I want any time of the year.  In fact those trends are becoming more and more common all around the country.  We import so many different foods from around the world that what grows here, during each particular season, has become lost in the mix.  When we go to the large commercial grocery stores it seems like most of the produce we are buying was grown thousands of miles away, handled by possibly hundreds of people, transported on trucks, airplanes, trucks again, and then delivered to us.  So not only is the food not local and fresh, but the imprint on our environment is severely compromised.  That’s a lot of car and airplane fuel being burned into the atmosphere just so you can get your chinese pears.  Why not local pears?

Right now it’s summer.  It’s hot.  It makes us tired.  The foods that are growing locally right now like leafy green vegetables, berries, peppers etc. are intended to cool us down, increase our energy, and fill our bodies with nutrients and antioxidants so that we will be prepared for the fall and winter seasons when we need protection from colds and the flu.  So why do so many Americans feel it necessary to eat so much meat and grounding heavy foods in the summer?  Because it sells, that’s why.  Just a few decades ago, before factory farming of animals and gigantic genetically modified vegetable crops our ancestors were not sitting around the barbecue grill waiting to chow down on pork, chicken, beef, and sausage during the summer.  They saved the animals for the cold months when they needed grounding foods high in proteins and fats that would insulate them and increase their strength when the real tough weather came.  In the summer they ate what was growing at that time.  Remember, just because you are in a beautifully air conditioned restaurant that makes you feel nice and cool doesn’t mean that it isn’t still 90 degrees outside.  Ordering that plate of braised short ribs or pork with mashed potatoes may sound like a good idea when it feels like November inside, but when you get back out into the heat, chances are you are going to feel pretty tired and sluggish.

Now your wondering what exactly are the foods that are in season.  This can vary a bit depending on what part of the country you live in but try looking  here.

So how and where do we buy local seasonal foods?  You can find them sometimes in the larger grocery markets, just make sure to always read the label to see where it was grown.  Smaller health food stores are more likely to have actual locally grown organic produce.  Your best bet is farmers markets.  And enough with the whole, “but there are no farmers markets near me”.   I used to say that too until I realized that I hadn’t actually ever tried to find them.  Now I realize that there are tons of them here in the city. If you need a little help finding one near you try looking here.  Buying your foods at the farmers market is pretty much a very safe bet that you will be getting local, fresh, organic foods while helping out the local farmers who get absolutely no help financially from our federal farm subsidies.

Listen, I’m not trying to say don’t ever eat meat in the summer and only eat vegetables, fruits, and grains that are grown within ten minutes from you.  I still enjoy the occasional meat barbecue in the summer, and I eat Chines Goji berries year round.  But the bulk of our diet really should be local and seasonal.  Give it a try, I’m pretty sure you will notice a difference in how you feel pretty quickly.