Seasonal Eating Made Easy

My humble garden spot where things grow outside of the box, literally!

Photo courtesy of Jakob E. Schechter

Seasonal Eating Made Easy

The revised edition of Hands On Health will have a more detailed explanation of seasonal foods in chapter 4.  I have been amazed at the responses from clients and workshop participants who state that they really are not sure what constitutes a seasonal food; what foods grow and are eaten in what seasons.

This is certainly understandable when we can walk into a grocery store produce section and pretty much buy any fruit or vegetable year round, thanks to the global growing and shipping of food.  I ask you to try this visualization (if your mom and dad, grandparents, or neighbors had a garden when you were growing up):  close your eyes and stand beside that garden.  Now think about what your family served you from that garden throughout the growing season; what were the first foods harvested in spring, the things you longed for to grow faster, your favorite fruit or vegetable from the home gardens?  Now, take a walk into that garden and look at all the lush plants vying for space in the soil (no, not the weeds, although some are very yummy, nutritious, and edible foods!) and get a feel for the what is growing at this time of summer.  Often when we think back to family gardens, our recollection of seasonal foods awakens.

I live in Northern NY State and our growing season is approximately May through September.  I describe seasonal as this: vegetables that grow up and out of the ground are late spring, summer and early fall foods (Examples would be: peas, asparagus, greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash...) and vegetables that grow into the ground are late fall, winter and early spring foods. (Examples would be root vegetables of any kind. Try a  Google search for "root veggies" to learn how many root veggies there are besides carrots and potatoes!)  

Obviously, there are exceptions to these "rules." Early root veggies are eaten in summer: young carrots, baby beets with their greens, early parsnips, and many other root vegetables. There are winter keepers like cabbage and Brussels sprouts that grow above ground but are later season vegetables and will keep well into winter.  I leave my Brussels sprouts in the garden and just harvest all winter until they are all eaten.

Squash also grow above ground and there are winter keeper varieties to enjoy well into the winter season and early spring, if stored correctly.  I am thinking that storage will be under my bed this winter.  Thanks for the squash storage tip Sandy Maine!

Fruits follow a seasonal plan as well:  berries in the late spring and summer, late summer apples / pears / peaches and plums, and fall harvest apples and pears that are winter storage fruits.  

This is a quick explanation to get people thinking in terms of eating seasonally, remembering what things grow and store best in what seasons.  Ask your grandparents; our elders have much wisdom around what was growing in gardens at what time of the growing season and what foods store best for winter eating.  

I hope this helps you to get re-oriented with seasonal foods.  Your body feels best when it is in sync with the rhythms of nature. Be well!  Paula

Health and Healing Hints

In a recent conversation with family and friends around health and healing; "what foods are good for healing certain diseases,"  "should I eat flax or soy if I have breast cancer,"  "are animal fats really unhealthy foods," etc., my Mom had this bit of wisdom to share:

"If in doubt, leave it out."  Mom Youmell

This speaks loudly; if you think something is going to be good or bad for you, it will be.  If you have a "gut" instinct about something, go with it.  If you have doubts about a food's ability to nourish your body with what you need, right now in your life, listen.