“Seasonal eating”. Seems to be a pretty obvious statement, but what does it really mean?
We have become so used to being able to buy whatever we want whenever we want. Tomatoes in winter and oranges in summer. Do we even know when fruits and vegetables are in season any more? Supermarkets store produce in their cold rooms for months on end and with the advent of chemicals & fungicides etc., our beautiful fruits and veggies are sprayed and sprayed to keep them “fresh” way beyond what nature intended. What are we really buying when they are “out of season”? Quite literally we are buying toxic, often tasteless, nutrient depleted food. All because we either are unaware, don’t care, wanting it because we want it or have become so disconnected from our inner knowing and the intuitive part of ourselves that knows what our bodies truly need.
So what are the benefits of eating seasonally?
Nature has it all sorted. Lets use citrus for example (think oranges, lemons, tangerines, mandarins, limes and grapefruit). These are in peak season in winter and loaded with immune boosting vitamin C (as well as loads of other nutrients) so obviously this makes them perfect for the cold and flu season. In winter many of the seasonal veggies are root vegetables growing beneath the ground where the soil is warm. These plants such as sweet potato, Swedes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes etc, thrive in these conditions. These earthy vegetables are what our bodies crave. These veggies are dense and create a slow burn – the heat is just what we need in the cold wet months. We all love a hearty soup or stew when its cold and wet outside.
Similarly in the warm dry months we need the light, sweet, water filled fruits and vegetables as the weather is hotter and we are far more active. As we burn more energy, the natural sugars of the berries, melons, stone fruit, cherries, tomatoes etc. support the body to rehydrate and restore energy.
I could write pages and pages of info about the nutritional and health benefits and the vitality of seasonal produce, however, what I really want to talk to you about is the joy of eating seasonally. My family and I go to our local farmers market every Sunday morning. I absolutely love meandering my way around the market, talking to the growers and intuitively selecting the freshest most beautiful produce. I choose not to rush, but to take my time, using all of my senses to enjoy this wonderful experience. The excitement and joy when I glimpse the first of the season anything is indescribable. A couple of weeks ago the first organic asparagus arrived. I felt like I was going to burst I was so happy. Immediately I started thinking about the beautiful dishes I was going to create with these gorgeous babies. Cooking them was going to have to wait though – I couldn’t resist the smell and look of these gorgeous asparagus. I snapped one in half and popped it into my mouth. The explosion of flavour was incredible. It was like my bodies memory of this humble little veggie was switched straight on. Such a simple pleasure, one that my body knew was not only going to make my taste buds dance, but give it the nourishment it needed right now.
Who doesn’t have a beautiful memory of biting into the first strawberry or watermelon of the season. As that sweet flavour washes over your palate and the juice drips down your chin – sweet memories of days gone by come flooding back. Memories of connections to celebrations, to people we love, family rituals and so much more . It is the middle of Spring in Adelaide right now, and the first basil, tomatoes and zucchini are just trickling in. Spring garlic is just starting to bulb and a rainbow of beets fill the market tables. Our veggie garden at home is bursting with new produce. Cherry tomato bushes are full of little green round fruit just waiting for the sun to ripen them. The house is filled with the smell of the first basil pesto, I am dusting off the spirooli ready for zucchini noodles and already I can imagine biting into the first ripe tomato, still warm from the summer sun.
Food connects us. It is the centre piece of so many celebrations with the people we love, and a conversation starter with people we have yet to meet. Many a chat about a favourite recipe or way to cook a certain veggie has been struck in the line at the farmers market. Total strangers connected by the joy of seasonal food. Most importantly it connects us to our body and opens our hearts. When we listen to our body it tells us exactly what it needs. You may not hear a booming voice saying “buy that peach”, it is so often a sensory thing, a knowing. When you practice the art of being present with your food and take your time – you are organically drawn to all that you need.
In many ways seasonal produce is a mirror of our bodies needs. As one season blends into the next, the new produce that arrives is full to the brim with the powerful nutrients that heal and energize us. How clever is Mother Nature. She has placed all that we need to support our body into these tiny perfect little packages. She has done all the hard work and created “Nature’s Farmacy”. So instead of wanting tomatoes in winter, follow her lead. Go to your local farmers market and get swept up with the abundance of vital, delicious, rainbow of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you – Sending you love always – Kate xx