Why We Should Eat According to Seasons
Eating seasonally puts us in touch with our physical surroundings and grounds us in our local environment. When we overlook seasonal eating, we are less in harmony with the natural rhythms of the planet, our hometown, and our bodies. Eating seasonally connects us more deeply to the lineage of the food and supports local agriculture, ultimately reducing waste and expense. This concept is important considering that the average meal travels 1500 miles or more to the dinner plate. Additionally, seasonally grown food may have different quantities and/or qualities of nutrients that we might not find in food brought in from other states or countries due to the fact that they do not have to be subject to extensive transportation.
A study published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition in 2008 by Wunderlich et al. demonstrated that seasonal changes in broccoli were more pronounced than whether the broccoli was grown using organic or conventional means. Broccoli harvested in the fall had almost twice the content of vitamin C than broccoli from the spring. These findings speak to the idea that the nutrients in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will be optimal if we procure them during the season in which they grow best. During their optimal season, they can access the soil nutrients, right amount of sun, and rain they need to grow to their full potential. Finally, we may be forming stress signals in food that is not grown seasonally by unnaturally forcing the food to grow and ripen during a time that is not it’s natural “due date”.
If we ate according to our local, immediate environment, we may get the necessary food information we would need in order to adapt better to our surroundings. When we eat out of context, we send different food compounds and secondary plant metabolites to our cells that may, in fact, signal stress. Researchers, Yun and Doux (Medical Hypothesis, 2007), have questioned whether human stress conditions (like obesity) could be related to “maladaptive consumption of stressed foods.” In other words, we become what we eat on a microcosm, cell-level, and a macrocosm, body-level. Eating stressed foods turns our bodies into stressed vehicles.