Have you noticed that you crave different foods in different seasons? Your body knows best what it needs and when it needs it. Foods that are in season provide us the most flavor, freshness and most nutritional value at the most affordable price. Modern food producing and distribution makes food available on your grocery shelves all year long, however, eating seasonally and locally not only benefits our bodies, but benefits the environment as well. By purchasing local foods that are in season, you eliminate the environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles and your family will reap the benefits of eating fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
In different parts of the country, seasonal menus will vary, but here are some general guidelines to help you start shopping seasonally.
Focus on tender, leafy vegetables that represent the fresh new growth of this season. The greening that occurs in springtime should be represented by greens on your plate, including swiss chard, spinach, romaine lettuce, fresh parsley and basil.
In summer, stick with light, cooling foods in the tradition of traditional Chinese medicine. These foods include fruits like strawberries, watermelon, peaches and plums; vegetables like summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower and corn. Include spices and seasonings like peppermint and cilantro.
Turn toward the more warming, autumn harvest foods, including carrot, sweet potato, onions and garlic, apples and pears. Also emphasize the more warming spices and seasonings including ginger, peppercorns and mustard seeds.
Turn even more exclusively toward warming foods. Remember the principle that foods taking longer to grow are generally more warming than foods that grow quickly. All of the animal foods fall into the warming category including fish, chicken, beef, lamb and venison. So do most of the root vegetables, including carrot, potato, onions and garlic. Eggs also fit in here, as do corn and nuts.
Photocredit: jafsegal at flickr under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License