Seasonal Eating is currently a trending conversation and I wanted to sit down and really share why these two words aren’t and shouldn’t be a trend and what it actually is. I have believed for quite some time that the way we shift our climate, our communities, and solve so many issues we are facing today with climate, division, and failing communities or family-focused ideals revolves around the table both how we gather together and how we place food on the table.
When we are talking about finding a deeper connection to nature and the rhythms of mother earth the very simple act of eating seasonally is a gentle step best pursued overtime to do just that. I also have a strong belief that when we focus intentionally on eating with the seasons we will find a healthier life both on our tables and that we are ingesting but also for the greater world. Our children have the chance to learn just how amazing simple things like a strawberry in June that was ripened a mile away in the same field the plant shares with native grasses and milkweed tastes compared to the one from a monoculture grown berry and picked before peak ripeness tastes in January. The nutrients are denser too to boot. The benefits of eating seasonally are numerous for you and the planet. Also when we eat in the season the costs of the food itself is lower. Abundance works in the simple model of supply and demand.
See the thing is we have lived in a world for the past 75 years where seasonally eating has become less and less easy to see. As food has become engineered to be grown anytime in various places around the world and we have demanded to access things year-round food companies have created it to be so. In our most recent episode on the podcast, I break down how this happened and why, and then how we reverse this little by little in our own lives.
The main thing to know is that if you feel that you cannot make a big impact on our current climate crisis or affect change in your local community, using this post to help you make this shift will bring back that power. Eating seasonally and many times as a result locally is one of the biggest ways we can impact the world. Our food consumption and the budget we line item for our household is an amount we can use to shift the demands for local eating, food grown with a conscience, and we can change the way the money moves through our communities. When we buy an apple from our neighbor we put that money back into our economy. When we make use of the abundance, we honor the rhythms of mother nature by using all she gives us in that time as well. A system of gratitude and reciprocity that slowly brings us back to a deeper connection with the Earth.
- What is Seasonal Eating?
- Seasonal eating, in a nutshell, is when we focus on our consumption of what we eat and what we store for later times in the year on the actual point of seasonality for each thing in our pantry and home we consume. We focus our meals and rhythms on the peak growing season of produce, meat, and all other staple items.
- Each thing we consume has a natural growing season. Even Citrus for instance has perfect harvest time in Winter for us. Thus, we focus our consumption and saving on when these items are most abundant whether local or even across the country if need be.
- The biggest misconception is that seasonal eating is an all-or-nothing idea. It isn’t. We can begin slow and steady by choosing one item each season or focusing on observing our area over the course of a year through farm markets, CSA, local farm stands around us.
- Is Seasonal Eating only able to be done with a garden?
- Though a garden is a wonderful way to pursue Seasonal Eating, it isn’t the only way.
- I see Seasonal Eating as a process of understanding the rhythms of nature and there are lots of ways to do that. This places us in tune with the fact that peppers aren’t grown year-round or rather they really aren’t best that way.
- Some of the best ways to eat seasonally are most likely offered to you quite easily:
- Subscribe to a local CSA (read this post for more on that)
- Attending local farm markets readily
- Reading what is in season each month in your area using this site that also has an app for your phone.
- Signing up for your state’s Farm Market Association email newsletters (if you are in Michigan like me this is our’s)
- Finding local farms in your area using this site
- Learning your Hardiness zone can tell you a lot about what can be grown where you are
- Why would I want to focus on Seasonal Eating?
- Seasonal eating literally is one of the easiest ways to adjust our connection to the natural world. When we eat with the rhythms of the natural world and how plants offer us the best of the best in every season we become more and more in tune with the plants and world around us naturally even if we don’t grow them ourselves.
- Seasonal eating can have a dramatic effect on the environment. When vegetables are grown in huge fields year-round in places like California, we deteriorate the soil and the veggies are less nutrient-rich and which lowers the ability for the soil to draw down carbon. As a result, our desire to eat strawberries in January in the north unless coming from our freezers or a jam jar is harmful to the environment and even ourselves (nutrients are far lower and the emissions from soil tillage and shipping alone are insane on the environment).
- Essential reading for this idea would be Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. So begin there if you want to dig deep into the actual facts on why seasonal and as a result local eating is ever more important.
- How do I know what to cook and plan my meals?
- Eating with the seasons requires you to have a great pantry with the right stock items there all the time. You can focus on these staples as local as possible. The more local the better in terms of environmental impact as well. Many of the following cookbooks I have here are full of AWESOME lists of pantry staples that I use myself.
- I have found there are few meals that are easy go-to’s or what I call “vehicles for produce” in ANY season so they are go-to’s when we feel a little lost. Here are the tops ones:
- Frittata or Quiche
- Tacos – bonus if you can locate corn flour (masa within 500 miles) to make tortillas
- Rice Bowls or Grain Bowls – We locate local sources for grain and rice
- Pasta Dishes of any kind
- Pot Pie
- Here are my favorite Cookbooks I use to keep me inspired with recipe planning as well:
- Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
- Dishing up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis
- Ruffage by Abra Berens
- Love and Lemons Everyday by Jeanine Donofrio
- Local Dirt by Andrea Bemis
- Market Cooking by David Tanis
- Living Ayurveda by Claire Ragozzino (a great intro to the idea of Ayurveda, which is focused on seasonal eating)
If you are loving this info, I suggest jumping over and hearing more on the podcast about how I integrate this into my life as a parent and how I suggest you can do this gently and easily. There is much more but I think you will enjoy the whole chat on the podcast as well, which you can listen to below.