Howdy from down on the farm! If you are just joining us, welcome to our 6 part series of learning how to ditch the grocery store and grow all your own food sustainably. Our first blog post in the series may be found here; Simple and Easy Skills Make you Grocery Store Free. Make sure to check that out if you haven't already and grab those free printables!
Today we are going to share some great reasons about WHY you would want to eat in season and WHAT eating in season is. The third post in this blog series will go about showing you the HOW to eat in season. We have some great resources and recipes for that upcoming post.
What is Eating in Season?
Eating in season means that we eat the foods that are harvested in the season we are in. Simply put we would not eat watermelons in December or pumpkins in May fresh from the garden. Instead we would be eating pumpkins in the fall (put up in cold storage or preserved) and watermelons in August or September depending on the area you live in. Another good example is tomatoes, nothing tastes better than a garden fresh tomato in August but those December tomatoes taste off and are never as flavorful as in summer.
"All things have their season, and in their time all things pass under heaven." - Ecclesiasticus 20:22
#1 Forces us to Use Whole Foods
Why should we eat with the seasons? We would love to share with you 7 different reasons. The main purpose of our blog post today though is to follow up with progress and ditching the grocery store and growing a sustainable garden. So the main reason to eat seasonably is that it first forces us to eat whole foods. If we are eating with the seasons we are not consuming things like potato chips from the store, microwave meals, fast food etc. We are cooking at home from scratch with real whole foods grown/harvested in the current season. We are picking which ingredients go into our foods from the type of sugar and flour to the type of potatoes we use to make our own chips and if we bake or fry those. For this reason its much healthier as well as more affordable. For when we do the work ourselves we save money by paying ourselves to do the labor.
#2 Trains You to Eat What you can Grow
The second most important reason is that by eating in season it trains us to eat what we will grow ourselves. If we eat a watermelon out of season in December we will never be able to eat what we grow. Watermelons love warm weather and it takes a lot more effort and tools to grow them out of season. By eating in season we can 'pretend' that we are eating from the garden. We learn what we would be growing in the garden if we were growing our own food and we also know what we would be harvesting. It gives us practice on the cooking and preservation of those items that we may grow later. It also gives us an education in gardening before we dive in and grow our own. Eating in season also gives us a chance to discover if we want to grow that vegetable or fruit in our own garden or if its not something that we would enjoy. There is no reason to grow what you won't eat.
#3 More Affordable
Eating in season is also more affordable. When fruits and veggies are in season they are usually in abundance. Take for instance zucchini. We have it in abundance down on the farm right now with 3-5 or more a day. The grocery store or farmers markets are also going to have an abundance and the general rule of supply and demand applies here. When there is more supply the price goes down according to the demand. It also costs less to grow zucchini in the summer locally than to have to import it from another location far away and so naturally the price would be less. This applies to all seasonal fruits and veggies not just zucchini.
#4 Better for our Health
Seasonal eating is much healthier for us because the fruits and veggies are usually picked at their peak. They tend to be more local and so they travel less. For these two reasons there is much more nutrition in an in-season fruit or vegetable than there would be for an out of season veggie or fruit. They are also healthier because they are a whole food and not processed. Eating seasonal foods, locally, provides even more nutrition because they are harvested at their peak. When they are picked at their peak they also have more flavor than those picked too soon. Did you know that bananas are typically gassed to speed up and control their ripening?
#5 Inspires Creativity
Eating whole seasonal foods tends to inspire some creativity in the kitchen. When you have gone through 10-20 zucchini, zucchini sautés just don't cut it any more. Many can probably attest to baking zucchini bread, zucchini cake, zucchini this and that and the other. By the way... have you seen our zucchini recipe board on Pinterest? Just incase.... you know... your like us and have lots of zucchini hanging out! Yum... I think its time to make some zucchini brownies now.
Any how, case in point. When there is an abundance of produce it forces us to come up with interesting dishes, ways to preserve them and use them in order to make sure they don't go to waste. And while that might seem like a trial, some of the best things have been invented out of necessity.
#6 In Tune with God's Seasons
"All expect of thee that thou give them food in season." -Psalm 103:27
This reason to eat foods in season is what started our little farm adventure. We are Catholics here down on the farm and the Catholic Church has what is called the Liturgical Year. Its the means by which the Church organizes the year and its devotions. Every Sunday's Mass has certain prayers that go with it and certain Bible verses and stories that are read and meditated on. There is also a day of the year in which each Saint has his/her feast day and that is commemorated in the Mass. This is what is called the Liturgical Year. Just as in a secular calendar, the Church's calendar has seasons and we call those Liturgical Seasons. All of the lessons are very much based on the cycle of the earth's seasons. In the late fall and early winter we have Advent, the waiting of Christ coming to earth (time before Christmas), in winter we have a long Christmas season, then in the Spring we welcome Lent and Easter. The summer time is referred to as Time after Pentecost or as Maria Von Trapp called it "the green meadow".
It is this Liturgical calendar that brought us to love and appreciate every season for its harvests, for its rest, for its work. We celebrate and do penance according to the season in which God has designed and it isn't only designed in His liturgical calendar but also in the world which He created. When we add eating in season to this we look forward to summer because the fruits are on their way, sometimes we look forward to the end because the zucchini is done (can you see where my brain is these days?!). God in His omnipotence has certainly ordained that certain fruits and veggies grow during certain seasons so that they are the most beneficial to us during certain times. For God has a purpose in all His designs. He created nutrition packed berries and water filled fruits to help cool us in the summer and He created many wonderful nourishing greens and cruciferous veggies to help our systems clear out after a long winter of heavy rich foods. God is so good in designing things for our benefit! Eating with the seasons brings us closer to God and His creations.
#7 Better Steward's of God's Creations
"And the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise of pleasure, to dress it, and to keep it." Genesis 2:15
When God created Adam He created Him to take care of the world which He just made. As descendants of Adam, we are called to do the same and make sure that we are using the tools that God gave us properly. When we eat in season we are more likely to eat locally sourced food. More often than not that locally sourced food doesn't require the chemical usage that a food from a distance will require to preserve it. Those whole foods will not come, usually, wrapped in plastics and as much packaging had it traveled a long distance or if it was preserved for a long time. So there is much less waste especially if you compost or feed food scraps to farm animals. Less energy is used when growing foods in season than out of season. Less fertilizer and less water is needed. Eating in season is also very sustainable. When we use the left overs of those whole in season foods properly they can also build up the soil where we can plant again. A food system based on processed foods, grown abroad creates a lot of garbage waste, labor waste and resource waste that could be saved by eating whole foods grown locally and in season.
How to Eat in Season & What's on the Menu?
Now that we know and understand why eating in season is so healthy for our body's and minds, why it is much more affordable and how it helps us to be better at taking care of God's green earth, HOW do we do it? What veggie grows during what time of year? How do we cook it? We plan to answer those questions and provide some free tools for you to put to use in next weeks blog post. Please make sure to return for part 3 of our 6 part series!
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