Most folks would agree that one advantage of modern living is that we’re not reliant on what’s growing right this second for our dinner table.
You want apples in December? No problem! The supermarket has them flown in from South America.
Tomatoes in February? A breeze! The hothouse tomatoes in the produce section look the part, even if they lack one tenth of the taste of what grows in your garden or is available at roadside stands in season.
But if you’re looking to maximize the taste and healthiness of your diet, be a good steward of the environment, and take a page from how humanity began, a seasonal diet is a great option to consider.
One of the big fallacies of eating seasonally is the belief that doing so means a winter without fruits or vegetables. That’s far from the case.
Check with the farmer’s markets or local growers in your area. You’ll find plenty of options, from greens to root vegetables and even fruits—ones that grow even when the weather turns cold.
Keep in mind that when cavemen were around, there weren’t refrigerators and freezers to store produce. Nor were there any places to buy whatever they wanted.
Our ancestors hunted and foraged for whatever was available, and they evolved to develop palates suited to that purpose.
Eating seasonal offers many health benefits. For starters, it means eating local, which means fresher products.
Fruits and vegetables begin losing vitamins and minerals as soon as they are picked, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see which is the healthier option – produce from the farm down the road, or different products that have to be shipped from far away.
It also helps the body function properly by consuming foods designed to tune the body’s metabolism to the proper season, maintaining the natural evolutionary rhythm.
In addition to dietary benefits, eating seasonal helps reduce an individual’s carbon footprint. It focuses on eating local, so you’re getting what’s easily available and not something that has to be trucked across the country or shipped from overseas.
Seasonal eating also ensures a variety of food throughout the year. Instead of falling into a rut, recipes can be added to the cookbook based on the seasons, ensuring that we eat enough different products to maintain a well-balanced diet.
Eating seasonally doesn’t mean consuming fruitcake in December and chocolate-covered eggs around Easter. Instead, it’s a healthy way of keeping the human body running smoothly, a technique that has been true from the days of the cavemen to the present day.
Humanity may no longer have to eat that way, but in this case the old ways are still best for most.
Alfablue, December 2011