Have you ever wondered WHY our bodies start craving warmer flavors and foods in the fall and winter? We’re taking a closer look at the benefits of eating seasonally, including what it means to eat seasonally, why it’s important, how it can save you money, and how you can easily incorporate its principles into your regular eating habits. (Hint: If you are a willing participant in the pumpkin-spiced everything craze, you’re already one step closer to eating seasonally!)
What does it mean to eat seasonally?
A great place to start saving money in your grocery budget is by eating seasonably. Depending on where you are, this likely means you won’t be eating strawberries in December and pumpkin in July. If you’ve ever tried to buy a pint of strawberries in December for instance, while they may be available in your grocery store, you’ll likely be paying a premium price. I’ve seen organic strawberries as high as $5.00 a pint out of season. However, if you’re buying them in peak season (typically anywhere from May-August in our area, they are much more reasonable.)
How eating seasonally keeps you on budget
That’s why staying as much in season as possible will help you stay on budget. I find it also creates more excitement around a certain food. Let’s talk blueberries for instance. At our local farmer’s market, we can get local, pesticide-free blueberries for $3.00/pint. We buy two or three pints a week for about 5-6 weeks, making everything revolve around blueberries. Blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, you get the picture. That “limited-time-only” mentality really adds a layer of specialness to the ingredient. If you’re paying $3.89/6 oz. a container at Aldi, for example, that’s actually $10.37/pound! Ten ounces of frozen organic blueberries at Kroger are $2.99 ($4.78/pound) Do we buy frozen blueberries in the winter? Of course. But it’s not the same as eating a freshly picked, plump, juicy berry right in the middle of summer.
What are the benefits of eating seasonally?
Taste and nutrition
Fruits and vegetables grown in their natural environment under more natural conditions (like vine-ripened tomatoes or strawberries, etc.) taste much better (in my opinion, anyway) They’re at their peak freshness and flavor, which is one of the biggest benefits of eating seasonally, in my opinion.
Support local growers- aka become a LOCAVORE
Seasonal eating is the perfect complement to eating local. I have a grouping of letters in my kitchen that I painted when we first moved in and remodeled our kitchen that spells out “LOCAVORES”. I love seeing the quizzical look I get from new visitors who 1.) try to pronounce it and 2.) try to guess what it means. It’s a concept that’s really important in our hometown. In the aftermath of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, folks in Huntington took great pride in making strides toward living a healthier life.
One huge way was the inception of The Wild Ramp Market. It started in 2012 as a way to centralize a spot for local producers (including meat, dairy, fruits, veggies, beekeepers, and artisans) to get their products to market. As of mid-2019, The Wild Ramp has put more than $1.7 million back in the hands of more than 100 local producers and artisans.
If you take pride in supporting your own local producers, consider yourself a “locavore.” ?
How eating seasonally affects our bodies
We checked in with certified ayurvedic counselor Eva Ball to find out the benefits of eating seasonally for the body. Ayurvedic lifestyle focuses on whole foods, mindful eating, and using foods to promote healthy living. Ball says, “As the temperatures begin dropping more steadily, the appetite increases, and we begin craving sweet, moist food that allows us to stay warm and build a robust insulating layer and immune system.”
Ball recommends bitter, astringent foods like cranberries, dark leafy greens, apples, and pumpkins in early fall to “allow us to expel excess heat from the body.”
Tastes to favor-
- Sweet taste ( apples, sweet potatoes, nut milk, warm grains)
- Early Autumn- Bitter and Astringents (dark leafy greens, cranberries, pumpkin)
- Late Autumn – Salty, and Sour. Pink Himalayan Salt and citrus fruits. We favor these tastes in late Autumn because they encourage internal moisture protecting use from the dry qualities of the season.
Foods for Autumn
- Proteins from small legumes such as red lentils, mung beans, split peas, adzuki beans, tofu, eggs, and most meat. (Ayuverdic Tip: When cooking beans, add a strip of kombu to reduce the bloat.)
- Sweet, dense fruits such as bananas, mangos. Early Autumn increase apples, pears, and cranberries.
- Cold-pressed oil, coconut oil, ghee, avocado oil, sunfower oil, olive oil.
- Moist grains such as basmati rice, brown rice, and oats. Use extra water when cooking.
- Roasted Seeds and Nuts
- Soaked Seeds and Nuts
- Warm spiced nut milk
- Cinnamon, ginger, cumin, fennel, and salt
- Cooked greens like sea vegetables, collards, kale, swiss chard.
- Root Veggies such as sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, squash, turnips, and parsnips.
Reduce these Items
- Dry food like crackers and chips
- Caffeine like coffee
- Carbonated drinks
- Raw food
Autumn Shopping List for seasonal eating
- Swiss Chard
- Brown Rice
- Red Rice
- Wheat Berries
- Black Beans
- Mung Beans
- Adzuki Beans
- Red Lentils
- Split Peas
- Goat Milk and Cheese
- Raw Nut Butters
- Raw Nuts (not peanuts)
- Cacao Powder
- Coconut Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Sesame Oil for massage
What’s in season in your area?
Want to find out how to eat seasonally in your neck of the woods? Here’s a generic list of what’s typically in season during the fall.
Here’s a great guide to get you started.
You can also look up what’s specifically in season in your state at any given time of year by inputting that data here: https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/
Want a free printable to stay in season? Click here.
Final Thoughts On The Benefits Of Eating Seasonally This Fall
For fall, think about incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables into soups, stews, or curries.
For fruit, choosing sweet, sour and heavy fruits like oranges, bananas, avocados, grapefruit, pineapples and mangoes rather than berries or stone fruit this time of year. Foods containing immune-boosting vitamins A and C will help prepare your immune system for cold and flu season.
Check out more from Eva here.
Even if you’re not on the pumpkin-spice flavored everything bandwagon (if you are try these pumpkin yogurt cups!), you can still find something this fall to help you eat seasonally. If you’re still not sure where to start, try one of our Fall Meal plans. One of our favorite breakfast for fall are these simple apple cinnamon overnight oats. Happy Fall Y’all! (p.s. if y’all ever see y’all spelled ya’ll… don’t trust their southern authenticity.)