When I was a kid I spent my summers in Door County Wisconsin. We ate fresh, local and seasonal all summer long. I distinctly remember anticipating when my favorite fruits, berries and vegetables would be ripe and available, probably my favorites being raspberries and rhubarb. I liked to put the berries on my fingertips and then pluck them off with my teeth one by one.
In the fall we would escape up to the cottage for a weekend or two to pick apples. I remember loading up the station wagon with bushels of fragrant, firm, juicy Red Delicious apples. The taste was indescribable. Nothing said fall like the smell of fallen leaves and the taste of sweet apples.
It seems that the anticipation of food coming into season and eating locally is a thing of the past for most of us. It’s kind of like our movie viewing habits. When we were kids, movies were on television seasonally, “The Wizard of Oz” was shown near Halloween, “It’s a Wonderful Life” near Christmas. I would be excited for the entire week leading up to watching those movies. The anticipation made it that much more special. The day of, I kept a close eye on the clock to make sure the popcorn was ready and I was squarely in front of the television when it began. There was no other opportunity to watch it: no video, no On Demand, no nothing…..you snooze you lose. The movie was to be enjoyed “in season”.
While I believe that returning to the way we used to watch television and movies would be going backwards, I strongly believe that returning to the way we used to eat would be moving forward. There is just something so right about working with the seasons and eating locally when it comes to food, something so much more natural, nutritious, and environmentally minded. Why should we be eating summer produce in the winter, knowing that it has been transported thousands of miles to get to our local grocery store?
I’ve have heard that, when left alone, our body dictates what we should be eating and when we should be eating. In the fall and winter months I find that I am far more hungry. It is colder outside and I need extra fuel to keep me warm as I tend to my outdoor chores. I crave heavier foods like sweet potatoes, kale, stir fries and stews made with root vegetables. The smell of a chicken and sweet potatoes roasting the oven as I walk in from working is pure heaven. Isn’t it convenient that these are the exact foods that are readily available fresh and local? Better yet, for me, they are just a quick walk out to my farm shop or greenhouse.
It is spring here on the farm, with summer fast approaching. My body wants something different than what winter has to offer. The temperature is rising and my appetite dampens a touch. I want lighter fare in warmer weather, nothing to weigh me down. I also sweat more so my body naturally craves things that are juicier, like tomatoes, sweet peppers, berries and melons.
It has been a delicious experiment for me, eating seasonally. What I have found is that my body truly does dictate what I need. Eating organically and in season ensures that my body is getting all the vitamins that it needs and as a result, I haven’t been sick in years. By eliminating most processed foods and instead eating fresh and what is in season, I have no need for a scale because my weight remains constant. I don’t “diet” and I don’t gain weight.
It is a bit warmer today and I have been busy erecting the deer fence around this year’s summer crops. I spy the first ripened blueberries on a bush near the corner post opposite me. My body is whispering “antioxidants” ;-)