Even before the solstice marks the official start of winter, the change of season is definitely here. The air is brisk, the mornings are dark and the heavy rain is upon us. It's time to nest, snuggle under a blanket and take time to prepare warming, nourishing meals for you and your loved ones.
Eating with the seasons is optimal to be at your best and keep your body in tune with nature. As the temperature drops, I recommend leaning toward more warming foods. These foods include winter squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic. Check out sustainabletable.org for a list of seasonal foods in Oregon. It's a great resource to help you eat seasonally. Eating seasonally nourishes you and our environment. Here are some great reasons to look to mother nature when making your weekly shopping list.
- Seasonal foods can be locally sourced. Eating locally sourced fruits and vegetables means they have been harvested more recently and at a ripened state. Produce that is picked when it's ripe is more nutrient dense. When we eat produce shipped from thousands of miles away it has to be harvested long before it is at its peak.
- Seasonal foods provide our bodies with what we need at that time of year. For example, in winter we need more vitamin C and A to keep out immune system strong. Winter squash and carrots are great sources of both of these nutrients. These vitamin C rich foods are also warming for the body. Cooling foods such as melon, berries and peppers are at their peak in the summer months, when we need them most.
- Eating seasonal produce is good economics. Provide financial support for our local farmers rather than buying produce shipped from southern states and countries. And seasonal produce can save money on your grocery bill too.
- Seasonal eating also helps to protect the environment. Locally harvested food travels less to get to you, therefore using less fossil fuels. Produce like tomatoes and strawberries are often shipped from Central and South America to fill the shelves in Oregon during the winter months. Help to reduce your carbon footprint by choosing seasonal items and freezing your summer fruits to enjoy in the winter.
Staying healthy all year round is about giving your body the nutrients it needs. But do you want to merely stay healthy or do you want to thrive and live with vitality? I believe that to being at our best means putting effort into nourishing our bodies. Filling your plate with seasonal vegetables all year round is the foundation of good health. From this foundation, a strong body and spirit can grow.