If there is something I can wax lyrical on it’s living seasonally and embracing seasonal eating. Two things that I feel are the most important when it comes to slowing down and living a more simple way of life. Nature, in its infinite wisdom, has always followed a rhythm. The ebb and flow of tides, the blooming of flowers, and the migration of birds are all testament to the world’s cycles that continue on, whether we pay attention to them or not.
One such rhythm, deeply interwoven with our lives, is the seasonality of food. The modern world, combined with globalisation has pulled us further away from our roots, making it the norm for us to be able to eat strawberries in the depths of winter, of eating asparagus in the autumn. But just because we can, does this mean we should? My answer to that would be no, and if you’re intent on living a life that aligns with the seasons, you might want to give that a try too. I want to explore, with you, the significance of seasonal eating, its impact on our body and wellbeing, and how you can re-programme yourself to make the shift.
Why Eat Seasonally?
Peak Nutrition: Seasonal foods are harvested at the pinnacle of their ripeness, which means they’re densely packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Off-season produce, often harvested prematurely, might not reach the same nutrient density. Why is this important? Well, foods are ready to be harvested at the right time, when their nutritional denisity is just right for the season we are in. Essentially, season produce has all the right vitamins and minierals to help our bodies through the season we are currently in. Pretty magical eh?
Enhanced Flavour: Anyone who’s bitten into a summer-ripe tomato or a fresh springtime strawberry knows the unparalleled taste of in-season produce. This superior taste can make meals more enjoyable and can enhance our overall eating experience. I know, for me there is nothing better than a summer british strawberry, or a freshly picked, homegrown tomato.
Environmental Benefits: Seasonal foods usually have a smaller carbon footprint. When produce is consumed close to where it’s grown, it reduces the need for long-haul transportation and the associated emissions. When we eat in season we are reducing our food miles, but when we eat out of season, not only are we consuming things at the wrong time but we’re also contributing to additional food miles to get it to our plate. Not to mention, when things need to be transported across the globe they will be further from the time they are picked, meaning they are losing their nutritional density all the time.
Economic Benefits: Supporting local farmers and markets that offer seasonal produce ensures the money spent goes directly into the community. Moreover, in-season foods often cost less due to the reduced transportation and storage costs.
Seasonal Eating and Wellbeing
Alignment with Nature: By eating foods when they naturally appear, we align our diets with the rhythms of the natural world, fostering a connection with nature’s cycles, as well as consuming foods when they are supposed to be consumed within our locale.
Diverse Microbiome: Each season offers a unique variety of foods, ensuring a diverse range of nutrients that can lead to a healthier gut microbiome. Isn’t that just fab? We can literally heal our guts through eating seasonally. (Stay tuned because we have a fab blog post coming soon all this in much more detail).
Supporting Natural Detoxification: Foods available in spring, like leafy greens and citrus fruits, are detoxifying. This is in sync with our body’s natural inclination to detoxify and renew during this season. Yet more evidence that food is ready for harvest in our locale right when we need it. Isn’t nature magical?
Body Nourishment: Winter’s root vegetables offer sustenance and warmth, while summer’s fruits provide hydration and electrolytes. Eating seasonally literally helps us get what we need when our bodies need it most.
Embarking on the Seasonal Journey: Getting Started
I know where you’re at, this all makes so much sense that you can’t believe you didn’t think of it before? Bingo. We’ve all been there, it’s like genetically we know all of this, it is, afterall, in our make up. It is how we would have always lived and it’s no suprise to us really that is what is optimal for our bodies. But that modern world has got in the way, convinced us everything humans did for thousands of years was wrong and to do it a different way. Wild eh?
So how can you make that shift and run back to your roots? How can you start living in alignment with the seasons again and prioritising seasonal produce.
First things first: Be easy on yourself. You can’t make all these massive changes overnight, because we’re used to living and purchasing our foot in a certain way. The good news is the change is easy, and once you start you won’t want to go back.
Visit local farms and/or farmer markets because this is a great way to access fresh, seasonal produce and often get it straight from the source. If you are unable to get access to something like this you might want to consider ordering your seasonal produce from somewhere like Riverford. Riverford provide seasonal organic boxes of produce to suit your needs. If you use my link you can get a whopping £15 off your second order (and I will get £15 off my order too). The great thing about local farms, farmers markets or indeed Riverford is that you are able to access seasonal produce, at the right time, and also get help with seasonal recipes to make the most of your produce.
You might also want to grab yourself a seasonal food chart for your region. Remember, none of us live in the same place so search for one that works best for your country/area/region. If you are shopping at the supermarket it can be a handy reference for you to know what is currently in season, as supermarkets tend to have out-of-season produce on sale too.
Don’t forget to preserve your bounty, whether you are growing your own or buying it in. Embrace canning, freezing, and fermenting to enjoy seasonal flavours throughout the year. Winter can be brightened with summer berry jams, and spring salads can be enlivened with autumn-pickled veggies. We love to make our favourite strawberry jam all year round because we freeze our strawberries throughout the summer months.
Something we do is planning a seasonal menu. When you are growing your own or paying out for fresh produce from a farm or organic supplier you will want to make sure you are eating up every bit of produce. You can start by basing your weekly meals on what is in season and on seasonal eating, is abundant and fresh. Just to create the perfect blend of old and modern, I recently asked Chat GPT to create me a weekly meal plan, for a meat eater, prioritsing meat protein and including the seasonal vegetables I was getting in our Riverford veg box.
If you haven’t tried it already, try growing your own. Even if it’s just a small balcony garden, cultivating your own herbs or veggies instills a deeper appreciation for seasonality.
Seasonal eating is more than a dietary choice; it’s a lifestyle, a return to our roots and embraces nature’s wisdom. It encourages a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, intertwining our lives with the natural world’s ebb and flow. We are reminded of the simple pleasures of life and the nourishment nature generously provides. By choosing to eat seasonally, we aren’t just nurturing our bodies; we’re nourishing our souls and the very earth that sustains us. And that’s beautiful.