Spring is the time of year most of us get excited about produce. With those first feathery waves from the radish leaves pushing their way up through the earth in our garden, there is the promise that warmer, brighter days are on the way. There’s also the promise of a rainbow of fresh, organic fruits and veggies to enjoy, right from the back yard. And of course, this provides an opportunity to fill our bodies with nutrients and goodness from the Earth. There are dozens, but here are my top 7 Reasons to Eat with the Seasons.
The Saturday mornings of spring confirm that promise, with farmers’ markets and roadside stands sprouting up all around.
By the time summer settles in, most of us are spoiled by juicy red tomatoes, sweet berries and more than enough veggies to nosh.
Eating fresh seems to happen by default in the warm months of the year. And even in autumn, there is apple season, with so many varieties to try. The pumpkins are ready (to decorate and to eat) and there are still enough late-season goodies left in the garden to carry us through.
But it is some time after that, when the sun tucks in early each day, when winter breathes its chill into our air, that many forget about in-season eating. That can place a burden on our bodies in terms of vitamin and nutrient needs.
This spring and summer, when the baskets are brimming with fresh food from the garden, farmers’ market, or CSA, maybe pick (or purchase) a little extra to preserve (freeze, can, dry, etc.) so that when the days do become gray, you’ll have the taste (and nutrition) of summer to sustain you. Coupled with the wonderful winter veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, Brussels sprouts, celery, leeks and fennel (and many more!), you’ll keep variety of flavors and nutrients in your healthy gluten-free diet and you can avoid buying out of season.
As you may have guessed, eating fruits and veggies that aren’t in season can mean we aren’t getting the full nutritional benefit from those foods. Here’s what research has to say.
7 Reasons to Eat with the Seasons
1. Vitamin C rapidly degrades post-harvest in fruits and vegetables, and continues during transit and storage.
This is confirmed by several reputable research organizations such as The Center for Excellence in Fruit and Vegetable Quality (an organization developed by over 30 scientists from the University of California Davis) and the British Nutrition Federation.
2. Other nutrients, like B vitamins, degrade during transit and storage. This varies depending on the specific fruit or vegetable.
3. Fruits and vegetables picked in season then frozen are more nutritious than those same fruits and vegetable varieties eaten fresh when not in season. Further, research indicates freezing produce does little to alter nutrient profile.
Research from the Austrian Consumers Association confirms there really is a time when frozen veggies are better for us than fresh.
4. In some cases, full nutrient value is not achieved in out-of-season produce because it is often picked immature to prevent spoilage during (often lengthy) transport.
5. There is some evidence that rotating foods we eat (i.e., a Rotation Diet) can help prevent or modulate food allergies and intolerances.
6. In-season produce is much more affordable than out-of-season produce, so not only is it best for your body, it’s best for your budget.
7. Eating seasonally helps keep our diet exciting and healthy with a variety of flavors and nutrients to keep us satisfied while making it easy to meet our nutritional needs.
So there you have it, plenty of reasons to confirm that dining by nature’s schedule is best for our optimal health. Enjoy the bounty to come!