Summer is a time of abundance, with fruits and vegetables plentiful and fresh, and full of nutrients galore. The sooner you eat something after it is harvested, the better its nutritional content. When your produce has to be trucked in from somewhere else, vitamins are degraded over the long shipping times, and nutrition is depleted. Seasonal, locally grown foods have bright colors and full flavors, which is a great indicator of nutrition. Compare a tired looking tomato in the grocery store during the winter to a fresh, robust and colorful tomato from your local summer market, and you’ll know intuitively which is healthier!
Produce that ripens in the summer includes tomatoes, zucchini and other squash, peas, green beans, tomatoes, and all sorts of berries. What would summer be without enjoying a watermelon on a hot day, or fresh berries that melt in your mouth? But summer doesn’t have an exclusive hold on freshness; sweet potatoes and winter squash ripen in the fall, and snow peas and broccoli can be grown in the spring. By varying the foods you eat along with the seasons, your body periodically gets a fresh array of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients unique to each plant. Variety is key to meeting your body’s nutritional needs, just like how the saying “eating the rainbow” advocates a diet of many colors of fruit and vegetables. Eating seasonal produce throughout the year accomplishes much of the same thing, giving your body a variety of nutrients.
Do it Yourself?
The best way to implement seasonal eating is to do some gardening, and really, the only way to know that what you’re eating is healthy is to grow it yourself. Think about that for a minute. If you produced your own food, you’d know there were no pesticides on the lettuce leaves, and that your eggs came from chickens that spent their days happily pecking in the grass. It may not be possible for each of us to grow everything we eat, but every little bit helps, and whatever seasonal produce you can acquire improves your nutritional profile. The next best thing is to know the farmer who raised your food, whether it’s milk or beef or a bushel of tomatoes. Buy from farmer’s markets and build connections with farmers in your area, or join a CSA group (community supported agriculture) to get fresh produce at the best prices. You can also start a community garden in your neighborhood to have fresh, seasonal produce at your fingertips.
Take some time to figure out what’s in season in your area, and how to prepare it. Your body will thank you for the superb nutrition, and your taste buds will love it too!
Article by Jennifer Needham
Jennifer is a homeschooling mom to five kids, and works from home as a Nutrition Educator. She's currently a grad student earning a masters degree in Nutrition. View her website, full of free lesson plans to teach children about nutrition and health, at Nutrition For Healthy Kids.
Jennifer has written 15 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
Like Us On Facebook
Grab a Button
Join Our Blogroll