Why Eat In Season?
To enjoy food at its best, it's important to eat it in season. Seasons form the natural backdrop for eating. All of the World's Healthiest Foods are seasonal. Imagine a vegetable garden in the dead of winter. Now imagine this same garden on a sunny, summer day. How different things are during these two seasons of the year! For ecologists, seasons are considered a source of natural diversity. Changes in growing conditions from spring to summer or fall to winter are considered essential for balancing the earth's resources and its life forms. But today it's so easy for us to forget about seasons when we eat! Modern food processing and worldwide distribution of food make foods available year-round, and grocery stores shelves look much the same in December as they do in July. For the greatest freshness, look for foods that are locally grown and are in season. This is the time when you get the most flavour and nutritional value and it is the most affordable.
Differing cultural Perspectives
Various Cultures strongly believe that it’s always best to eat seasonally—produce that is currently in season is often the food that best addresses seasonal complaints. In winter, root vegetables such as turnips, rutabaga, and carrots are ideal (and also taste great in hot stews during cold weather). It’s important to eat tonic foods during winter because these are what will help preserve kidney function mentioned earlier.
In a research study conducted in 1997 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in London, England, significant differences were found in the nutrient content of pasteurised milk in summer versus winter. Iodine was higher in the winter; beta-carotene was higher in the summer. The Ministry discovered that these differences in milk composition were primarily due to differences in the diets of the cows. With more salt-preserved foods in winter and more fresh plants in the summer, cows ended up producing nutritionally different milks during the two seasons. Similarly, researchers in Japan found three-fold differences in the vitamin C content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter.
Animals Assisting Sustainable Practices
Animals provide recycling of nutrients and add to soil fertility, the ability to pollinate plants and crops, spread seeds and promote the ecosystem is essential to many food groups.
Various positive initiatives are assisted by animals such as decomposition or worm farms that allow nutrients to be enhanced to allow plants and vegetable gardens to thrive. As well as this, fertilisation of plants can be promoted through manure of various animals, allowing plants absorb the nutrients from these animals and grow successfully.
A good example of this important contribution is through bees. Their pollination can effect the growth of various elements within the ecosystem. Various examples of bee hive rental have been documented to assist in this essential component of crop growing. Another example is through bird populations consuming fruit and vegetables while transporting seeds to further locations. This seed dispersion allows for a natural sustainable boost to fruit and vegetable growth while also providing nutrients to the seeds.
Balance of an ecosystem is essential as over or under population of an animal group can impact on plant and other animal populations.
GOOD NUTRITION NOT ONLY FOR PHYSICAL HEALTH, BUT ALSO FOR OUR EMOTIONS
We all know about eating well to improve heart health and reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers, but how about eating for your mind and emotions? There is now increasing evidence showing that food plays an important role in the development, management and prevention of mental health issues, from depression, schizophrenia, and even Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, one of the best ways to improve your emotional health is through your gut.
By ensuring our diet is full of good nutrition and includes adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water, we are putting ourselves on track for a balanced mood and emotional wellbeing.
Here are five foods that keep the mind working at its best:
1. FATTY FISH
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, seaweed, flaxseed and walnuts, have been shown to reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other mental disorders.
2. WHOLE GRAINS
Glucose, which comes from carbohydrates, is the primary source of energy for the brain. Simple carbohydrates cause spikes in blood sugar levels and contributes to low mood swings. In contrast, complex carbs release glucose slowly, helping us feel full for longer and providing a steady source of fuel for the brain and body. Healthy sources of complex carbohydrates include whole-wheat products, bulgur, oats, wild rice, barley, beans and soy.
3. LEAN PROTEIN
Next to carbohydrates, protein is the most abundant substance in the body. Lean protein sources, including fish, turkey, chicken, eggs and beans, help keep serotonin levels balanced, leading to a better emotional balance.
4. LEAFY GREENS
Leafy greens such as spinach, romaine, turnip and mustard greens, and broccoli are high in folic acid, as are beets and lentils. Deficiencies in folate as well as other B vitamins have been linked with higher rates of depression, fatigue and insomnia.
5. YOGHURT WITH ACTIVE CULTURES
Fermented foods, such as yogurt with active cultures, kefir, kimchi, tempeh and certain pickled vegetables, contain probiotics (healthy bacteria) which have been shown in studies to reduce anxiety and stress hormones. In contrast, eating too many processed foods may compromise the delicate balance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut.
Seasonal Food Guide.
In different parts of the world, and even in different regions of one country, seasonal menus can vary. But here are some overriding principles you can follow to ensure optimal nourishment in every season:
Focus on tender, leafy vegetables that represent the fresh new growth of this season. The greening that occurs in springtime should be represented by greens on your plate, including Swiss chard, spinach, Romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, and basil.
Stick with light, cooling foods in the tradition of traditional Chinese medicine. These foods include fruits like strawberries, apple, pear, and plum; vegetables like summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and corn; and spices and seasonings like peppermint and coriander.
Turn towards the more warming, autumn harvest foods, including carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic during this cooler season. Also emphasise the more warming spices and seasonings including ginger, peppercorns, and mustard seeds.
Turn even more exclusively toward warming foods in these coldest months of the year. Remember the principle that foods taking longer to grow are generally more warming than foods that grow quickly. All of the animal foods fall into the warming category including fish, chicken, beef, and lamb. So do most of the root vegetables, including carrot, potato, onions and garlic. Eggs also fit in here, as do corn and nuts.
In all seasons, be creative! Let the natural backdrop of spring, summer, fall and winter be your guide.