Seasonal Eating Guide
I’m going a little off topic with a new series about healthy nutrition called ‘Facts Not Fads’. The reason is, I have a newly diagnosed medical condition which means I have to drastically change the way I eat. As I’m researching this anyway, I decided to transfer the information on to this blog. It will be a reminder to me and might just help someone else. The first part is a Seasonal Eating Guide about the benefits of eating produce when it is naturally harvested.
With supermarkets packed with every type of produce, all year round, it’s easy to overlook the natural lifespan of fruit and vegetables. If we want to eat strawberries in December we can, but cost and quality will be severely affected.
Our ancestors had no choice but to eat seasonally. They knew exactly when was the right time to sew and harvest, and ate at the optimum nutritional time of year. Their food was not affected by chemicals, refrigeration, artificial ripening or transported internationally like ours is today. The food was not stored and wrapped in plastic but came straight from the fields.
What is Seasonal Eating?
This practice revolves around consuming fresh fruit and vegetables when they are readily and naturally available, at certain times of year.
This can vary from region to region and depends on other factors including weather and climate.
The benefits are :
- The produce does not have to be transported from great distances. It is sourced locally at peak ripeness and does not lose quality during transportation.
- Local farmers benefit from people purchasing seasonal fruit and vegetables.
- The abundance of produce at certain times of the year means that the food is more affordable.
- It connects consumers to nature and the rhythms of the seasons
- It reduces the carbon footprint.
- Nutrition and flavour are enhanced when produce is harvested naturally.
- Eating seasonally means that people’s diets have variety throughout the year, and are less likely to develop food insensitivities.
Food miles is the term given to the length of the journey from field to plate.
Seasonal Eating Guide (UK)
Spring (March – May)
In Spring, fresh leaves like rocket and spinach stimulate the digestion and cleanse a body which has become sluggish over the winter months on a starchy, high carbohydrate and fatty diet.
- Vegetables: Asparagus, artichokes, peas, spinach, lettuce, radishes, broccoli, carrots, broad beans, cauliflower, rocket, spinach, watercress.
- Fruits: Strawberries, rhubarb, gooseberries, blackcurrants
- Tips: Spring is known for its tender greens and vibrant berries. It’s a great time to enjoy salads, light soups, and dishes that incorporate fresh herbs.
Summer (June – August)
Summer provides an abundance of hydrating berries and vegetables high in anti-oxidants including beta-carotene to help protect against sun damage.
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, corn, green beans, beetroot.
- Fruits: Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), apricots, watermelon, strawberries, plums, cherries
- Tips: Summer offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Grilling, making salads, and preparing refreshing smoothies are popular choices.
Autumn (September – November)
Autumn brings berries to support our immune systems as we move into colder months.
- Vegetables: Pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower.
- Fruits: Apples, pears, grapes, cranberries
- Tips: Fall is a time for hearty meals and warming dishes. Roasting vegetables, making stews, and baking with apples and pumpkins are common.
Winter (December – February)
Energy dense vegetables like squash and potatoes help to fuel, warm and comfort us.
- Vegetables: Winter squash, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, pumpkin, mushrooms ,celery, leeks, onions, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes.
- Tips: Winter foods tend to be hardier and more comforting. Soups, stews, and roasted root vegetables are popular choices during this season.
Tips For Eating With The Seasons
- Grow your own vegetables and freeze quantities to eat out of season.
- Many fruits and vegetables are ‘fast frozen’ within hours of being harvested and retain nutritional value
- Pickling and jam making are great ways to preserve fresh seasonal products.
- Find a local farmer’s market or farm shop to buy fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables.
- Many farms offer fruit picking where you can literally choose your own produce straight from the fields.