Monday, June 27, 2011

Healthy Living Principle #3 - Think Seasonally

Flickr: All rights reserved by fatboydon
To follow up Healthy Living Principles #1 and #2, #3 is Think Seasonally. What does "think seasonally" mean?  When you are choosing your fruits and vegetables, choose the majority of what you're eating based on those foods that are in season where you live.  Some foods are in season "year round" so feel free to enjoy them year round When you eat seasonal foods, they are more likely to be locally grown (since the food is in season where you are) and picked closer to their peak of ripeness verses picked early and ripened with gas or have color added so that the food looks more appetizing.  When you are eating foods that travel less distance, and that are picked closer to their peak you are getting a more nutritious product, and increasing the nutrients for your dollar.  Another great thing about eating seasonally is that it tends to be cheaper: blueberries are less expensive in July when they are in season and you can get them from New Jersey (for those of us on the East Coast) verses in January when you have to eat ones that are imported from a warmer climate where they can still be grown.  On that note, foods that are seasonal and local travel less, so in addition to generally being more nutritious and less expensive they are also better for the environment (less travel to get to you) and can help support your local farmers.

How do you know what foods are seasonal, the easiest way is to go to a farmer's market, find one local to you today here and see what they have.  Most farmer's markets source their products from LOCAL farmers, which means that you'll be getting seasonal produce.
Most foods that are packaged do not have I know someone is already thinking about Tastykake Pumpkin Pies, Cadbury Eggs, or Trader Joe's O's (the Oreo cookies with  peppermint candy cane bits in them) that are only around for their respective holiday seasons.  If you're picking those foods and calling them healthy since they are "seasonal" you're missing the point.  At the same time, if there is a treat that you love that only comes around during a certain time of year then indulge once as a planned "treat." Make sure you keep it a treat and not a regular food to have every day it's "in season" keep it special by having 1 (one) Tastykake Pumpkin Pie around Thanksgiving or whatever your seasonal indulgence is.  For the record, mine is not a Tastykake Pumpkin Pie :)

In the Ayurveda tradition (traditional Medicine native to India, also known as an alternative form of medicine), foods that are available during each season are there for a reason.  In the spring time there are lots of cleansing and detoxifying greens available to help rid your body of all of everything it's stored throughout the winter.  In the summer, you have a wide variety of cooling fruits and vegetables that are in season, eating these help keep your core body temperature down, add hydration to your diet through your food, and help keep you feeling energetic.  In the winter starchier vegetables are more available, giving your body more substantial foods to help keep you warm.  Whether you believe in the ayurvedic traditions or not, I think that a lot of it makes sense.  When you're outside on a hot, humid summer day - do you crave a warm roasted butternut squash or a refreshing cold piece of watermelon?

Eating seasonally doesn't have to be complicated and it doesn't mean that you shouldn't eat summer foods in winter ever again.  It's a good rule of thumb to apply when you're selecting what you're going to eat to ensure that you're selecting healthy foods that are going to give your body what it needs, when it needs it.  Think about trying to eat seasonally most of the time, but you don't have to limit your consumption of fruits and vegetables to only what is in season near you.  Eating seasonally will help you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables so that you get a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc that are jammed into the seasonal foods you are choosing. 

For some resources to find out what is fresh near you, regardless of the season try this Eat Local resource that lets you select your state and your season.  How can you incorporate seasonal foods into your food choices starting today?  For a guide on how to pick out fresh summer produce (that's what's in season now) check out Real Simple's tips here.

1 comment:

  1. a refreshing cold piece of watermelon? I know someone that would want a bucketful of watermelon...nice post Laura!