Why to eat “in season”

Fall Harvest

Say the term “in season” to someone working in downtown Toronto and they’ll probably think about about a Pumpkin Spice Latte or the Peaches & Cream muffin available seasonally at Starbucks. (No drooling!)

The thing is, for most of us big city dwellers, we never stop to think about eating differently with the change of seasons, simply because we’re not around farmland or as connected to nature. No consultant is sitting at his or her desk thinking “ah the rhubarb harvest must be ripe by now, I will visit the market later to pick it up to make pie!” It’s more like “how bad is it to eat sushi three days in a row?”

Even as a nutritionist, I get stuck eating in a rut with buying the same staples year round (baby spinach, apples, berries, bananas etc.) It’s the moment that I go to a farmer’s market instead of a big grocery store that I actually become aware of seasonality. Simply because farmers will look at me like I’m crazy when I ask for things that stopped growing a bajillion months ago.

So what’s the deal with eating in season? Why should we care or do it at all? Here’s a quick snapshot all about seasonality!

Why we should eat in season:

  • Tastes WAY better.
    • When you pick something fresh, the flavour is simply far better, hands down.
  • More nutritious
    • Imported produce is picked weeks before its ripe, so it’s not at its peak nutritional content. Plus, the moment you pick a fruit or vegetable the nutritional breakdown begins! So not only is it already lower in nutrients, it’s going to diminish further by the time it gets to you.
  • Cleaner
    • Food travelling from halfway across the world is more likely to be contaminated with pathogens, bacteria, fungus etc. Essentially, the more steps there are between farm and table, the more chances there’ll be for contamination and safety issues during harvesting, washing, shipping, packaging and distribution.
  • Cheaper
    • When produce is grown outside it’s natural season, it needs more help in the form of pesticides, chemicals, preservatives and waxes to grow and also look more appealing to consume. That means more $$, transferred to you in the form of higher prices!
  • Acclimatize to the weather
    • Food in season prepares us for the weather that we’re going to face, and provides us with what our body will naturally require. For example, the fall season is typically cold, dry and windy. Therefore it makes sense to eat more foods that are warm, moist and grounding. Is it any wonder that root vegetables like squash and pumpkins are harvested in the fall, and make perfect stews and soups?
  • Variety
    • It’s fun to try new things! Ever tried to eat a parsnip? Rutabaga? Kumquat? You haven’t lived! (Slight exaggeration, but you get the gist).
    • By eating different produce year round, you’ll get more nutritional variety too and get a more well-rounded balance of key vitamins & minerals.
    • Eating the same food over and over again depletes the enzymes responsible for eating that food. Over time, this can develop into an allergy or intolerance!
  • Encourages us to cook more at home
    • Because you’re not going to eat those pumpkins raw 🙂

What produce to buy (Toronto):

Here’s a website that tells you what produce is in season:
http://www.harvestontario.com/seasonal.php

But the easiest way to know what’s in season is simply going to a local farmer’s market and seeing what they have! Here’s a sampling of what’s on the menu for fall:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter squash
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Swiss chard
  • Apples
  • Cranberries
  • Pomegranate
  • Grapes
  • Tangerines
  • Pears

Where to get it:

All you really need is this list to get to the best farmers markets!
http://www.blogto.com/toronto/the_best_farmers_markets_in_toronto/ 

About Alina

I'm a Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada and my official title is Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). I received my diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I'm a coach and an educator. Follow Alina on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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