Hello everyone, I hope your holidays were full of joy, laughter, good food and family. Welcome to the new year! I took a break from blogging over my winter break to make the most of my limited time with my loved ones.
Ariana, Cleo, Emma and I got together and celebrated our yearly BFF Christmas. Every year, as our relationships grow and develop, the gifts we share become more and more thoughtful. A lot of them are hand-made, DIY crafts! Over this past year, Awie, Cleo, and Emma have all joined me in being vegan, so a lot of this years theme was thriving through plant-based living. We even created a vegan Instagram, @bestveganfriends, to share our college-budget-friendly meals, recipes, and store-bought food reviews! It’s also a great way for us to stay connected while we’re all following our paths at different schools.
We have a shared goal this year: being more health-conscious. In an effort to celebrate and support my body, I’m moving heavily in the direction of plant-based, whole foods-centric diet. When I got back to school, a friend suggested we make a trip to a local Winter Farmer’s Market…and I was all in! So begins my research into seasonal eating.
What are the benefits of seasonal eating?
- Affordability: It’s easy to overlook the economic benefits of seasonal shopping. I always imagined that buying produce from a local source would cost extra, especially because local farms often grow organically. But when you shop seasonally, the food is at its peak production rate. It costs less for farmers to harvest and transport product locally, so the purchase price is lower too! I got every root veggie I needed for my root vegetable and quinoa salad from the farmer’s market, organic and local, for $3.50! I would have payed that much just for the beets at my local grocery store, and my purchase wouldn’t support my community in the same way.
- Taste and nutritional value: When shopping locally, your fruits and veggies aren’t being shipped for long periods of time over long distances. You’re buying product that’s been picked at the peak of it’s season, and hasn’t had time to lose it’s flavor or freshness! I had a carrot from the farmer’s market today that SHOCKED me. That’s what carrots are supposed to taste like!? They’re sweet and crisp! Carrots from Big Y and other chains have always left a metallic taste in my mouth and I never knew any different. When stored for long periods of time, antioxidants and other nutrients in your produce actually decline. By the time non-local, non-seasonal produce reaches the shelves, the flavor and nutritional value have diminished. Seriously, I can’t tell you enough how much the true flavor and texture of local produce changed my relationship with wintertime veggies.
Support locally and ethically: It’s a sad fact that agricultural labor is largely fueled by migrant workers who are mistreated, disenfranchised, and experience human rights violations. It’s nearly impossible to be a 100% ethical consumer, but shopping locally for produce decreases the chances that you’re paying into the abuse of agricultural workers. Rather, you’re paying directly into your community! The more money that circulates within a community, the more the economy will thrive.
- Nature knows: Your body needs different nutrients during different seasons. In the summer, nature produces stone-fruits for us to eat, which contain carotenoids! These help protect our skin from sun damage. In the winter, seasonal fruits include oranges, grapefruits, and kumquats. All of these citrus-y fruits contain Vitamin C, which boosts our immune systems during cold and flu season. Winter’s earthy, rich root vegetables like beets are also a great source of Vitamin C!
So we’ve answered the “why”, what about the “how”?
Easy as pie. Seek out local farmer’s markets and food markets that outsource from regional farmers! Even if you don’t have a farmer’s market in your area, non-chain stores will often carry locally-sourced produce. Sometimes it’s not as local as you’d hope, but regional food is better than food shipped across the ocean.
If that’s not an option either, don’t fret! Eating seasonally just means knowing which produce to buy and which to hold off on until its season rolls around. A simple Google search of seasonal produce will give you all the answers you need. Just pick off that list when you’re at the grocery store and you’re more likely to get nutritional and flavorful food.
I love to COOK seasonally! So many great food bloggers create seasonal menus and recipes using in-season produce. Check them out and make the most of your produce purchases! One of my favorites is Wendy Polisi’s roasted root vegetable & quinoa salad – follow the link and you’ll end up with a beautiful winter salad like mine!
donation to Little Bird Blog