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Eating Seasonally

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The seasons are what a symphony ought to be: four perfect movements in harmony with each other.  Arthur Rubenstein

As of July 1st, 2013 I am officially a student of Integrative Nutrition.  Ever since my late teens I have been interested in health.  I always thought I practiced a healthy lifestyle.  And I suppose with the knowledge, what little bit I had , I did the best I could.

For instance when I was 14 yrs old and working in a grocery store,  I started out every morning with a huge BRAN muffin that had just come out of the store bakery.  I THOUGHT I was eating healthy, the pastry had bran in it, they dusted the top with a few oat pieces.  Little did I know, that I was basically eating a big, brown, cupcake.   Anyway, we all start with what we have and grow from there.

In one of the modules that I am studying, we are talking about eating seasonally.  Years ago I would have interpreted eating seasonally as, what to eat for Easter, Thanksgiving, and for Christmas (haha).  But what we are really talking about here is eating fresh produce when it is in season.  To many this may be a new concept.  For those who eat foods that mainly come preprocessed everything is in season!!  You can eat Top Ramen and Mac ‘n’ Cheese year round and the flavor never changes.

I will never forget the year we literally lived on Top Ramen.  My dad is a wizard in the kitchen.  He can open the fridge and cupboards and create something out of nothing.  I remember every night asking dad what was for dinner and he would reply, “Stuff”.  I knew this meant that he dumped a bunch of odd ball ingredients in his magic pot and something wonderful would be ladled out on my plate.

So for 365 days we ate some form of Top Romen.  I don’t know how he did it but he created a new taste with it each and every passing day.  I am thinking by day 333 it had started to grow old (lol) but on day 365 moma had ENOUGH!  I can recall that day as if it were yesterday.  Mom and I were sitting at the dinner table and dad waltzed over to the table carrying a large casserole dish.  As he sat it down in center of the table I peered in and instantly recognized the presence of Top Ramen.  Mom grabbed the serving spoon with a sigh, scooped out some “stuff” and went to plop it down on her plate.  But it stuck to the spoon, she shook and shook the spoon but it refused to release itself.

Finally, with a loud slushy thud, the “stuff” landed in the center in her plate.  I looked at the plate, I looked at the “Stuff” and I looked at Mom… she had that look in her eyes and before I could give it anymore thought she uttered the words quietly….”ENOUGH!”… then a little louder, “ENOUGH!”… then in a thunder, “ENOUGH!”  A glazed look washed over her , she had the spoon in hand that still had some “stuff” on it that refused to let go, she shook the spoon in the air , then brought it down to a slam on the table and said with great force, “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!”  Dad and I just sat silently.  We all looked at one another and ate our “Stuff”,  that night was never spoken about again and that was the last time dad made “Stuff.” haha

Like I was saying we all do the best with what we have.  But in today’s world with so much information at our fingertips we no longer can afford to be naive.  So today I wanted to give us all something to chew on (no pun intended) and to give some serious thought as to what it would be like to eat seasonally.  What does it mean and why is it important? Let’s break this down a little bit.

Lemon-Balm-1Farmer’s Markets and purchasing produce locally.

  • Buying local, such as at Farmer’s Markets will pretty much assure you that you are eating what is in season.  Unless of course someone is having produce shipped in from other areas, this is not sustainable.  But usually and specially in small town Farmer’s  Markets, you are buying produce that is available fresh and local.
  • Buying local helps to support your fellow neighbor.  Money stays within the community, and strengthens the local economy. More money goes directly to the farmer, instead of to things like marketing and distribution.
  • When you buy local you can check out the farms were things are grown and inquire about their farming techniques.   It is important to purchase organic produce whenever you can.   Not all farmers can advertise that they are growing organic produce but practice doing just that.  It can be a huge expense to become “organic certified” so never be afraid to ask the farmers what they use on their soils and plants. Click here to educate yourself on how to make the best choices when it comes to buying organic or conventional produce.
  • Purchasing local cuts down on shipping  costs and  eliminates the environmental damage caused by shipping.  This can save a lot of fossil fuels and put less carbon dioxide into the air.  In addition, produce must be picked while still unripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport. Or the food is highly processed in factories using preservatives, irradiation, and other means to keep it stable for transport and sale.
  • Buying seasonally will expose you to a whole new set of produce items throughout the year, providing you with the opportunity to try new foods and recipes.   I read once that out of all the fruits and veggies that are grown, we only eat about 10% of them (in variety).
  • Buying seasonally tastes better! Fruits and vegetables are harvested when they are ripe and thus full of flavor.
  • For a complete listing of markets in all 50 states, please visit Local Harvest.

I know what it is like first hand to struggle when it comes to buying local produce.  I lived in Alaska for 28 yrs and due to the growing conditions there the selection is very limited.  The small town that I lived in eventually started a small Farmer’s Market. Most of the tables / vendors sold crafty items.  For fresh produce one could basically buy cabbage (HUGE ones), zucchini, cucumbers, and some greens.  I am sure it will grow with demand but while I was there it was hard to eat a variety of seasonal items.  This caused my husband to look into CSA’s which stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  We would go on-line and select what produce items we wanted shipped up to us in a box and a week later it would show up.  We did this along with buying whatever we could locally.

Characteristics of Community Supported Agriculture

  • Local farmers connect directly with consumers, which helps develop a regional food supply and strong local economy. CSA cuts out the ‘middleman’, which lowers costs to both farmer and consumer.
  • CSA farmers typically use organic or biodynamic farming methods, minimizing environmental pollution and encouraging land stewardship.
  • Most CSA programs offer a variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs in season. Some provide a full array of farm produce, including shares in eggs, meat, milk, and baked goods.
  • CSA helps maintain a sense of community. Some are dedicated to serving particular community needs, such as helping the homeless, disabled, or youth and low income groups.

Organic produce labeling stickers – you need to know this!

Labels with:
  • 4 digits beginning with 3 or 4 are conventionally grown, non-GMO produce.  This produce may have been sprayed with weed killers and chemical pesticides but is not genetically modified
  • 5 digits beginning with 8 means that the produce is genetically modified (boo! hiss!)
  • 5 digits beginning with 9 means it is organic! (refer to my post on the Dirty Dozen to see what foods to prioritize in buying organic)

Remember this – “8, we hate………4, is poor………9, is Divine.”

I hope that you have found some of this information helpful.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject matter.  Please feel free to leave a comment.

Have a blessed day, Amie Sue




2 thoughts on “Eating Seasonally

  1. Lisa Torres says:

    Hi.. I am also a student at IIN..March class… Love it…whoo hoo.!!! I love it. I also love reading your blog.
    Welcome to IIN!
    Lisa Torres

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Lisa :) Thank you. I thought my web-site would be a great place to share what I am learning…it all ties together. I look forward in getting to know you throughout the year. Blessings, amie sue

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