The Benefits of Seasonal Eating
Our world moves to a beautiful, natural and cyclical rhythm. Seasons, moon cycles, the life stages… just to name a few! Our whole foods flow along with this dance.
Synchronising your diet with the seasons is definitely not a new concept.
Our ancestors just didn’t really have a choice! They attained their food by hunting, gathering, farming and some preserving. This was all dependent on what was available at the time.
With modern advancements in technology and globalisation, things are obviously now totally different. Our methods of attainment (as well as the foods themselves) have been created for convenience, efficiency and variety – irrespective of the seasons.
Many people have noticed some issues with this, as well as some benefits to keeping more aligned with the natural produce flow, and eating seasonally. Seasonal eating is quite simply about eating the fruits and vegetables which are available and local, during that time of the year.
We’ll explore some of the benefits and some tips on seasonal eating below.
One of the most significant advantages of seasonal eating is the nutritional benefit. It generally means less processing is required, and that you’re eating fresher fruit and vegetables (which are packed with more nutrients!). This is important, as daily meal choices that are rich in fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet.
Processing foods includes elements such as as tinning and dehydrating, all in order to enhance their shelf life. Blanching is also used, which involves heating foods very quickly with steam or water. This unfortunately often reduces or removes a number of key vitamins. This method is generally used before food products are tinned or frozen. The freezing processes itself doesn’t cause a severe reduction in vitamins. Whilst dehydrating can enhance some nutrients in fruits, it does decrease Vitamin C.
Another key benefit to seasonal eating is that it’s environmental impact is far less than that of food which has been grown and shipped from afar.
Global flights, shipping and transportation are amongst the biggest to a huge (and growing) global carbon footprint. Sourcing seasonally and locally means that you’re reducing the number of miles your food travels before it reaches your plate, reducing the amount of fuel used and preventing pollutant gases from going into the atmosphere.
To counter food from spoiling over such long distances, fruit and veggies are often picked unripe and gassed with ethylene in order to ripen just in time to reach stores.
Plus another bonus with seasonal eating, is that by purchasing fresh and local produce you’ll be supporting local farmers’ and communities.
Connection with the Body
Eating seasonally and as close to the source as possible is also a way to feel more connected with the food you’re providing to your body. You might find that on a more abstract, intuitive level, eating this way just feels better. Even after just a few days of delicious home-cooked, vegan food at a Happy Buddha Retreat, the difference in your body is noticeable!
Ancient health traditions such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) suggest that our bodies and minds are primed to receive different types of nourishment in rhythm with nature’s cycles, and that seasonal eating aligns with these shifts within our bodies.
These practitioners hold that weather shifts and internal shifts of our emotions and energy can influence our dietary needs and preferences. Therefore seasonally available foods are both protective and balancing.
For example, when the weather is dry and warmer, we might crave juicy and cool foods. Think of how great watermelon, cucumbers and leafy greens are in summer.
Colder weather might encourage food cravings that are more dense and warming. You might have noticed your spring selections naturally leaning towards detoxifying darker greens, root vegetables and spinach.
From this lens, it’s not just about fuelling your body – it’s about a much deeper union of cyclical internal and external forces.
Tips for eating seasonally:
- Make a plan
A loose strategy is important with seasonal eating. Take some time to plan out your meals according to what’s in season and create a shopping list based around it. You could do this slowly, trying out a new ingredient or recipe each week to add to your repertoire of meals.
- Pay attention
Visit your local farmer’s market or green grocer for fresh fruit and vegetables. They have a great knowledge of seasonality you may be inspired to create new and interesting recipes. Read the labels carefully and pay close attention to where produce is sourced!
- Smart Sourcing
Another option is produce delivery services with an emphasis on local foods. These are increasing in popularity all throughout Australia, and an easy, reliable option. Even better, you can grow your own produce! You’ll be given the gift of witnessing the cycles of nature firsthand. You could plant some indoor herbs and outdoor veggies. Lemongrass, mint, coriander and chilli are all relatively sturdy and accessible even for gardening newbies!
Easily one of the best parts of any Happy Buddha Retreat is the delicous, vegetarian, organic, home-cooked, DELICIOUS meals. (That list could have gone on for a lot longer.) Book a midweek or weekend retreat to experience this for yourself! Plus, you can find some free recipes here and here.