Advantages of a Seasonal Diet
by Lauren Foote, Plano Texas
What would an average American say to saving thousands of dollars annually while improving their health? Starting a seasonal diet may be advantageous for many Americans not only due to grocery cost reduction, but also for the body’s overall health. Buying groceries in season is not only about the purchase of crops that are fresh and local, but also acquiring groceries in bulk at peak ripeness, which means lower costs for the average American. Locally grown, seasonally prevalent foods taste better because they are not grown in some hot house, or shipped across the ocean. They are foods that are meant to be in the supermarket. A seasonal diet is easy to follow if you are informed on what kinds of foods are naturally available in each season.
Many people neglect to consider particular crops available within each season of the year, and how eating those foods, during the specific times they are available, can help your health. In spring, we should 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 convention of traditional Chinese medicine. These foods include fruits like strawberries, apple, pear, peaches and plum; vegetables like summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peas, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans; and herbs and seasonings like peppermint and cilantro. As the seasons change our body demands different nutrients and fiber to keep us healthy and warm. In the fall you can find an abundance of fruits and vegetables that can help your metabolism increase when it starts getting cold outside. Some of these are squash, apples, endive, garlic, grapes, figs, mushrooms, carrot, sweet potato, and onions. These foods are good to get your body used to the weather as the heavy frost of winter begins to come over the earth. Once the winter hits you want to focus on citrus fruits, kale, radishes, turnips, and leeks. Also emphasize the more warming spices and seasonings including ginger, peppercorns, and mustard seeds. All of the animal foods fall into the warming category including fish, chicken, beef, lamb, and venison.
There are some crazy diets out there, most directed only at the acceleration of making a person thinner. Those diets put no concern into what this rapid decomposition can do to your body. Most of those diets are oriented towards eliminating carbs, eating only beans for two weeks, only eating green, ignoring meat completely or something as ridiculous as eating a shake for breakfast and a piece of fruit for dinner while at the same time demanding a large amount of exercise out of your now-malnourished body. That is not the goal of the seasonal diet. The goal of the seasonal diet is to focus and pay attention to what crops are available and fresh at that point in time and to build your diet around it. You will save money on items that are abundantly stocked, and it helps your body digest according to the weather and according to what it needs at the time. Your health will improve because you can enjoy that fresh strawberry smoothie in the winter and avoid the browning, out-of-season lettuce in the middle of winter, and you won’t have to subject your body to exhaustive and sometimes dangerous fad diets.