Why Eat Seasonal Food?

 by Evan Thomas

winter squash

With the changing of the seasons comes the changing of the weather, the earth’s natural bearing of produce and our dietary needs.

While our ancestors only consumed regional and seasonal food, the modern-day, mass availability of produce imported from all over the world means we can eat mango and kiwi year-round. This access to diverse foods is certainly a luxury, however, we also can’t forget why it’s important to stick to our roots – literally.

Experts say it’s important to follow a seasonal food cycle for a few reasons:

1. It’s more sustainable

Eating seasonally, or only eating foods that grow naturally in the region and climate where you live, reduces the distance your food has to travel. Buying local produce lessens environmental damage caused by shipping foods and supports the local economy.

2. Mother Nature Knows Best

Produce that grows through the harsh fall and winter weather happens to have a higher caloric, or “energy,” content. In colder climates and seasons, the body works harder warm itself, and thus requires extra energy to do so. Consider your body a furnace that needs extra fuel in the winter – naturally occurring, high-energy winter veggies are the fuel that keeps your fire burning.

3. They’re At Their Best

Food that grows naturally in its optimal season and region does not require genetic modification, synthetic or manipulative growing environments, hybridization or overt pesticide use. In addition, when in an optimal season, fruits and veggie are at their peak nutrient yielding state.

What To Eat? 6 Foods in Style for Fall and Winter

The list below highlights 6 of the healthiest fall/winter fruits and vegetables:

  1. Carrots – High in beta-carotene and anti-oxidants to help protect your immune system by staving off the chills and free radicals.
  2. Onions – Balance blood sugar, protect heart, act as an anti-inflammatory for muscles and play a key role in enhancing immune system defense.
  3. Garlic – Grows throughout the harshest of winters. Studies show the bulb aids in cancer prevention, regulates fat cell growth and has cardio protective attributes.
  4. Nuts – A high-energy food that curbs appetites so you won’t eat too much at thanksgiving dinner. Nuts contain healthy fats that aid in skin and hair health.
  5. Root Vegetables (yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash, turnips) – Contain antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and regenerative tissue qualities, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients. They also make a nice cornucopia table decoration.
  6. Apples – High dietary fiber content, as well as digestive and blood sugar regulation benefits.

So are you ready to eat fresh local fruits and veggies, then find a find a local farmers’ market? Make a positive impact on your community, your planet and your body!

What’s your favorite seasonal dish to cook in fall or winter? Share away in the comments!

Evan Thomas is a senior at UCSB studying Architecture and the Environment with plans to study Sustainable Architecture in grad school with the particular aim of planning and developing smarter, more eco-friendly communities.  He is a member of the Isla Vista Food Co-Op near the campus of UCSB and supports local farms in the Santa Barbara area.  Evan has recently worked with FindTheData.org to create a free and easy-to-use farmers’ market comparison tool that anyone can edit or add to. 

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by benketaro

About The Author

1 thought on “Why Eat Seasonal Food?”

  1. This is exactly the philosophy at our restaurant Post 390, that’s why our Dining Room menu is seasonal. Glad to see people out there agree, there’s nothing better!

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