What if you were told you could guiltlessly indulge in your most sinful comfort foods (okay let’s cut back on the ‘most’ a little), associated with never-to-return happy memories of the past?
If you actually give your childhood a decent thought and run a food scanner over it, you’ll clearly see the role some foods, particularly fruits, have played in it. Tangy oranges in winter, sweet acidic pineapple slices in summer…You get the drift.
Grass is not greener on the other side.
The point is most of us (the normally perpetually dissatisfied type) intentionally or unintentionally crave for what is hard to get. Let’s restrict this statement to food for now.
Processed foods and year-long available fruits and vegetables have become one with our dining table. We enjoy the freedom of limitlessly experimenting with new recipes regardless of whether their ingredients are in season or not—because we know they’ll be serenely perched on the supermarket shelves down the road. We demand winters fruits and veggies in summer and summer ones in winter. (Now do you see the relevance of the green grass analogy?)
There are plenty of reasons why you should stick to eating seasonal (i.e. fresh) produce.
- In-season produce is harvested when ripe, so it is tastier–stonkingly tastier.
- It does not require prolonged storage and so surpasses extensive preservative treatments like irradiation, bleaching, and alternating freezing and heating. This brings us to the next reason…
- It is way more nutritious than off-season produce.
- It supports small local farmers.
- It is cheaper because it is available in abundance during a particular season.
- It is eco-friendly. Less transportation means less pollution, less refrigeration, and less CFC gases. Cross country transportation of produce or even imports flown in from other countries usually involve storage on ice. That may mean stealing water from countries that may not even have enough water to drink.
- Eating ‘seasonably’ will also save you the trouble of running to eleven different supermarkets in four different corners of the city just to find one off-season ingredient that is critical for an exotic recipe you got off the internet. Be smarter than that.
If your country has defined seasons, get the most out of it. You will probably enjoy Nature’s recommendations.
Where Do You Start?
Drop by a local farmer’s market.
You’ll be able to see what’s in season, you can ask the hosts how a particular produce was grown and where, and your MasterChef curiousity can be satisfied by getting some tips on how to stir up delish dishes using what’s available.
No ‘fancy’ farmer’s market?
Visit the supermarket as always, but this time go prepared.
By prepared we mean you must have a list ready of what’s in season. Download and print one like this…
This will help you set apart what’s seasonal from the hoard of off-season expensive produce.
Here are some tips on how to select and store produce…
Seasonal foods are not restricted to fruits and vegetables, even fish are seasonal. Switch off your procrastination mode and take that dreaded walk down to the fish market. If you survive the alluring smell of raw fish, it won’t be long before you realize that fresh fish is so much better than frozen fish stored in stores for months on end.
We fail to realize nature’s elaborate designs. Nature provides us with what we need when we need it. Instead of carelessly dismissing seasonal foods, find innovative challenging new recipes and ways to incorporate them into your meals. Later, if the busy you has time, research the nutrients you are obtaining from them. You will be pleasantly surprised to find how well Mother Nature is equipped to nurture you in a timely, sophisticated manner.
For example, summer is when most of us are active and need energy (think: sugars). The heat doesn’t help our cause, leaving us panting like a dog in the desert. Summer is also when watermelons (sweet and filled with water) are abundant. See how well that works out for us?
So, the next time your stomach growls, check your calendar (if you need to) and then head to the kitchen (or supermarket).