Let’s talk about root vegetables because we always associate them with fall and winter. Parsnips and carrots are great additions to soups and stews, aren’t they?
They make us feel warm and grounded, and that’s great for this time of year. But who wants to feel warmer in, say, July?
Food Expert, Educator, Author and Cofounder of the Small Planet Institute Anna Lappe and Eco-Chef, Author and Food Activist Bryant Terry explained to Nourish Life.Org that eating in season also connects us to a specific time and place. When you don’t eat with the seasons, you’ll also:
- Put your inner health out of whack. Our bodies are pretty smart, and we tend associate certain foods during certain times of the year.
That doesn't just go for the parsnips. For instance, we want watermelon in the summer, because it’s so cooling—but who needs to be cooler in the dead of winter? Now spring is associated with cleaning, and that goes for our bodies. So we lighten up and eat tender, fresh, spring greens, many of which are also great liver detoxifiers.
Even our milk is different in winter than summer! In 1997 the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in London, England, found that the nutrient content of pasteurized milk was different in winter than summer, probably because of the dietary changes of the cows. Iodine was higher in the winter; beta-carotene was higher in the summer. Similarly, researchers in Japan found three-fold differences in the Vitamin C content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter. You can still enjoy nutrient-dense fresh produce all year round—just can and preserve.
- Add to the planet’s carbon footprint. I once walked into a health food market to see a big sign that screamed “Organic tomatoes!” When I got closer it said, in teeny, tiny type, “flown in from Mexico.” Now, that takes a whole lot of gas, oil and refrigeration to get it to the store.
- Not get many nutrients. There are 3 reasons why seasonal, local produce is more nutrient-dense: 1) Out-of-season produce might also have preservatives, chemicals, hormones, GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and other unhealthy things we don't want, just to keep it looking appealing all year long. 2) When you eat with the seasons, you’re constantly rotating your diet, so you’re getting an assortment of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. 3) It’s commonly known that produce is more nutrient-dense when it’s ripe and freshly picked, as opposed to spending hours (or days) on a plane or truck.
- Pay a lot more. It is supply and demand, folks. When something’s in season, it’s plentiful, and that brings the price way down. When people fight over a few containers of blackberries….well, that doesn’t need further explanation.
- Not enjoy the taste as much. Hhhmm, what’s better—a ripe and juicy (but probably small and somewhat misshapen) peach just picked from the tree in July, or a mealy, tasteless but large and "perfectly formed"one that you find in the supermarket in March?