How to Change Your Diet with the Seasons
Pumpkin spice season is officially here! For many of us, when we think of eating during the fall season, our minds might go straight to pumpkins, squash, and apples. You might be drawn to the delicious warmth and coziness of these ingredients. But have you ever considered doing this with each season, beyond the pumpkin spice? Changing your eating habits with each season has a number of health benefits as well as benefits for the environment.
What is Seasonal Eating?
Seasonal eating is when you make food and produce choices based on foods that are in season. It can include all foods that are seasonal, but primarily focuses on fruit and vegetables that are weather-dependent for their growth.
Why Should You Change Your Diet with the Seasons?
Eating seasonally has many health advantages. First and foremost, when produce is grown in season, it allows for nutrients to develop to their optimal potential. This means that if you choose a seasonal tomato grown in the summer months versus a tomato that is grown in the winter, it will have a higher nutrient content. Not to mention, seasonal produce will be much more delicious when those flavors develop fully too.
Apart from seasonal eating being more nutritious, it can also offer us the comfort that we need, especially during those winter months. Research shows that incorporating seasonally relevant and comforting foods, there can be a release of serotonin and other hormones to improve our mental health. Studies show that comfort food is associated with close relationships. This association can remind us of fond memories and relationships that can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, seasonal eating is much more budget friendly. This comes down to the age-old concept of supply and demand. When seasonal produce is being produced in large amounts, this creates less of a demand, allowing it to be sold at lower prices. Not only that, but seasonal produce is often found and sold locally, which can significantly reduce transportation costs.
5 Ways to Incorporate Seasonal Foods
- Shop at a farmers market - local farmers markets help to ensure that produce is coming from local vendors. You can find farmers markets in your area by checking out the USDA’s Local Food Directory
- Shop sale items at grocery stores - check out your grocery store for local and seasonal produce. Even in many chain grocery stores, you can find a section that has local offerings. Additionally, take a look at the weekly ad for items on sale as these are often going to be seasonal food items.
- Plant your own garden with seasonal produce - calling all plant moms! Have you considered planting a garden? This can be as small as a container garden or as big as large garden beds. Try to plant produce that is seasonal to your area. You can find out more information and planting calendars here.
- Find a CSA - Consider joining a CSA. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Typically, a farm or network of farms offer shares to the community. It works like a subscription service to a local farm. This method benefits farmers and consumers because it provides a farm with a reliable source of income in an unreliable industry and provides the consumer with a box of freshly sourced produce and other goods. To find a local CSA, check out LocalHarvest.org.
- Locate restaurants that utilize local and seasonal produce - To add some more fun and flare to your social calendar, consider checking out restaurants that utilize local and seasonal produce to create their menus. Create a monthly meetup with a friend to try different restaurants that have invested in partnerships with local food vendors.
Changing your diet with the seasons can be a fun way to keep nutrition exciting and eat sustainably. It can add a variety of flavors, textures, and recipes to your repertoire. Try to focus on comforting recipes that immerse you in the current season and bring along your childhood joys! What ways do you plan on incorporating seasonal eating into your everyday life?