Seasonal fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally, and are quickly harvested, have optimal nutrition with more antioxidants and phytonutrients than those picked before the peak of ripeness. This means that the fully-ripe produce you are eating will most likely be grown within 100 miles of where you live which supports local eating and less use of resources. Fruits and vegetables that are consumed in season taste great, and are also excellent for your health.
While it may seem like less produce is available during the fall and winter months, there is still a variety to choose from.
Fall is known for the plethora of squash and pumpkins this time of year yields. Pumpkin is considered fall’s superfood. A one cup serving of pumpkin has twice the amount of vitamin A as a serving of carrots, and is a great source of vitamin C and E. They are also loaded with beta carotene which promotes healthy skin and eyes, and a strong immune system. Look for fun ways to include pumpkin in your seasonal recipes.
Apples are also abundant during the fall season. While the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” doesn’t hold as much truth as it used to, there is some evidence that adults who eat an apple a day are on less prescription medications. Apples do contain roughly 85% water, which can help you stay hydrated and feel full. They also rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber. This helps fight free radicals and keeps bad cholesterol from rising.
While it may seem like less produce is available during winter, there are a lot of winter vegetables that are overlooked. Vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, kale, potatoes, spinach, and other leafy greens are among the list of vegetables that can be harvested in the winter time. Additionally, a variety of root-based vegetables are available during winter.
Turnips are available all winter long. They contain glucosinolates which help fight cancer; vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant; potassium, which assists with essential body functions; and many more vitamins and nutrients.
Leafy greens, especially dark leafy greens, benefit the body in a plethora of ways. If you are unable to find them at your local market, make sure to buy certified USDA organic leafy greens at your grocery store. Dark leafy greens provide essential fiber which is crucial for gut health and the microscopic good bacteria in your colon.
Seasonal Eating and Your Community
Seasonal foods are the highlight of farmers’ markets and other venues that stock local and organic produce. When you eat locally grown produce you are benefiting your body by providing it key nutrients, and you are also benefiting your community. Supporting your community and health by investing in the farmers that provide you produce pays you back two-fold. While it may seem difficult to find fresh produce during the cold fall and winter months, it is not impossible. Your local farmers’ market can provide you new ideas to use commonly overlooked produce.
When you use what is plentiful, in season, and local in your cooking, you are giving your immune system the best that nature has to offer that is at its peak of flavor and nutrition. By embracing the seasons in your culinary lifestyle, your body becomes in tune with the rhythms of life and optimally uses what it has been given.