Your Comprehensive List of Seasonal Foods
Eating seasonal foods is almost impossible these days. Everything is available year-round in the grocery stores, since it's now being shipped around the world. This isn't always bad, especially when you use food for healing and need specific options. But the amount to which it's done along with the amount that generally gets wasted is appalling.
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Cooking in season means things like grilled asparagus in springtime, apple pie in the late summer and fall, carrots and potatoes in winter.
Eating seasonally is one of the most healthy things you can do for yourself. Seasonal foods are denser in nutrients, since they are fresher and were not picked green in order to ship to you. When they are grown in their natural and preferred enironments and climates they grow to their fullest healthy potential, meaning you get the most from them. And it's just natural: We naturally want more fruits and veggies when it's warm outside (when those things are ripe and nutrient dense). In the winter we tend to crave heavier, warmer healthy dinner recipes that tend to contain root vegetables, grains or animal products.
Keep in mind that healthy food recipes made out of season are also a huge burden on the environment. It takes large amounts of resources to grow hothouse tomatoes in January or ship them across the globe. Therefore foods out-of-season at your grocery store have probably come from the other side of the world, or used other unsustainable practices in growing or raising your food, such as genetic modification. (Purchasing your food from a local organic farm will ensure you get the highest quality, in-season food while supporting your local economy.)
Having a fruit list and lists of vegetables like this can help you when choosing a seasonal meal plan too.
Let's break down the benefits to seasonal eating with some quickie bullet points:
- Foods that are in-season generally have more nutrients. This is because foods that are out of season usually come from around the world; they have to be picked green, before they are at their peak, to be shipped to you without rotting. Seasonal foods, however, are picked at their peak and in your hands quicker, meaning healthier food for you.
- Seasonal foods are better for the environment. It's more likely that your food is grown locally or at least regionally when it's in-season, meaning less emissions in sending it your way. It also takes less energy and input to grow foods in their ideal climate and growing conditions, meaning a smaller ecological footprint to your eating.
- Seasonal eating can actually mean MORE variety. Think about it: We tend to get stuck in our food ruts, eating the same foods year-round. When you're eating from a seasonal fruit list or seasonal lists of vegetables, you'll be eating new things every season. This also makes things like strawberries a really enjoyable when you know you'll only find sun-riped strawberries in the summer months - you'll be sure to enjoy them to their fullest potential!
- Seasonal produce is also better for the budget. Prices go down when foods are in abundance, and up when they are scarce, harder to grow, or are coming from the other side of the world (like they will be out of season).
Seasonal Fruit List
A great way to remember lists like these is to think about tradtional foods, such as cranberry at Thanksgiving or citrus fruits in the winter time when we need the extra vitamin C for colds.
IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that seasonal foods vary depending on region, meaning local foods take priority!
If you live in Southern California, Florida, South America or Australia, your options in December are far different than someone living in Michigan, Ontario or Finland.
So use these fruit lists and lists of vegetables as a guidelines, but explore your local farmer's market and ask the farmer's what you can expect year-round. They will often have great seasonal recipe ideas, too.
Lists of Vegetables by Season
The seasonal foods listed below include all varieties of vegetables (roots, gourds, legumes, etc), as well as herbs, lettuces and leafy greens.
Greens, Swiss Cha.
Lettuce, Red Leaf
Lettuce, Spring Baby
|Beans, Chinese Lng
Peas, Sugar Snap
Potatoes, Yukon Gld
|Beans, Chinese Lng
Squash, Sweet Dumpling
Squash, Sweet Dumpling
You might be wondering about other seasonal foods, such as dairy, meat and eggs.
Traditionally, eggs are most "in season" during lighter times of year when the days are longest. They are still available in winter months, although will naturally decline as the days shorten. However it's a common practice for farmers to use articial light to increase egg production, although this has some controversy regarding a hen's natural cycles of fertility and rest.
In Nature, cows and goats will generally mate year-round, making dairy products available year-round. If you're buying local, the farmer's practices will vary depending on may factors, so it's best to check with them.
Traditionally, I feel we as both hunter-gatherers and as farmers would hunt or slaughter in the fall months when fresh, seasonal foods were in decline to consume during the colder winter months when it could be kept easier and when fresh produce was scarcer. And I've found many of us who eat seasonally, naturally eat more animal products in the colder months than we our bodies want or could tolerate in the summer months when fresh fruits and vegetables are in abundance.
Simply put, this is what those of us eating according to Nature tend to find our bodies do: Warm foods, heavier foods and root foods in the winter when our bodies need more warmth, as well as citruses when available for the vitamin C to keep us healthy, followed by salads and an increase in fruits and veggies in the spring, almost completely plant-based foods in the summer with a slow transition back into the colder months.
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