We are so used to the fact that in grocery supermarkets there is everything and always, that today it is even difficult to imagine a time when strawberries and tomatoes were available only in summer, and leeks - only in late autumn. The constant availability of products, of course, can not but rejoice. But how useful is it to eat fruits and vegetables in the "off season", is it not harmful to health, and in general what is "seasonal food"?
Seasonal food: what is it
When they talk about seasonal food, not all food products are meant. First of all, it is vegetables, fruits and leafy greens. Determination of seasonality does not apply to cereals, which perfectly retain their nutritional properties even for several years. Seasonality applies exclusively to products with a short shelf life.
Eating seasonal food means eating foods that are grown and harvested exactly at the time you buy them.
It may seem that the power system for seasonality is a trendy trend, but it is not. Food on this principle was the norm for many generations of mankind, long before the emergence of large grocery stores and before applying the latest technologies in the cultivation of agricultural products. It is customary for a modern person that practically any food is available 365 days a year. However, this does not mean that tomatoes sold in winter are as good as summer vegetables.
Why it is useful to observe seasonality in food
Each vegetable and fruit ripens in the time provided by nature, achieving the best taste and nutritional characteristics. Seasonal products contain the optimal amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, micro and macro elements. By consuming such food, we get the necessary nutrients and energy.
Recently, more and more researchers have been saying that non-observance of the laws of nature, including in terms of food intake, causes imbalances and disharmony in our bodies, which leads to illnesses and ailments. For thousands of years, people ate seasonal food and therefore, as scientists believe, he was not disturbed by so many diseases as in our time. The twentieth century is an outstanding example of this, since it was during the last hundred years that non-seasonal products appeared in our rations. Even at the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, scientists classified only about 700 diseases, and after a century there were already more than 10 thousand. The number of diseases is constantly increasing, the number of patients is also growing. And one of the reasons for such a deplorable situation, scientists call a person's withdrawal from food with seasonality. Eating seasonal fresh foods helps the body return to its natural rhythm and prevent the accumulation of excess fat. In addition, fresh fruits and vegetables provide the body with a more impressive amount of antioxidants than non-seasonal, which is also important for maintaining good health.
Chinese medicine and ayurveda about seasonal food
According to Chinese medicine, each season is matched with various products and beneficial substances that strengthen our health. For example, autumn according to ancient Chinese teachings is associated with the respiratory system and skin. As the cold weather sets in, we become more prone to diseases of the nose, throat, and lungs. In order to prevent diseases, Chinese healers advise in the autumn to include more fruits with a sour taste in the diet, for example, apples, lemons and grapefruits. By the way, the ancient Chinese even precisely determined the date when they should begin more actively to eat sour - after the September equinox. In addition, autumn is a time when in the East it is advised to switch from fresh salads to rich soups and stews. And this is also an example of seasonality in the diet. Such dishes strengthen the immune system in the autumn and prepare the body for winter.
If we talk about winter, then "seasonal" at this time are vegetables rich in fiber and carbohydrates, which give energy, contribute to the rapid warming and saturation of the body. The spring menu should be based on fresh greens and juicy vegetables with rich chemical composition, which allows the body to quickly restore the vitamins and minerals lost during the winter. In addition, from the point of view of traditional Chinese medicine, in the spring you need to eat more products with a bitter taste, for example, dandelion greens, watercress, chicory, as they help cleanse the blood and detoxify the whole body. Summer is naturally the time when the menu is replete with a variety of berries, fruits, vegetables, greens, which are incredibly rich in nutrients. It was at this time that the seasonal menu allows you to maximize the body with all the necessary components for it.
Moreover, according to the Chinese, nutrition on the calendar not only strengthens the immune system, but is also good for the digestive system. According to the observations of eastern doctors, seasonal food is digested faster and easier to digest by the body.
The principles of seasonality in nutrition are advised to adhere to ayurvedic doctors. True, according to Ayurveda, the seasonality of products is determined by the individual characteristics of food (cold, hot). Ayurvedic food is advised to eat food with the characteristics of “heat” (for example, pepper or ginger) during the winter months, and “cold” foods, such as cucumbers and most juicy vegetables and fruits, should be eaten in summer.
Seasonal food and baby food
Separately, it should be said about the seasonality and nutrition of children. If the period of prikormov or transfer the baby to good nutrition occurs in the winter or early spring, some mothers rush to the supermarket and buy different vegetables, fruits and berries. "Well, how else? The child needs vitamins!" - they say, without thinking that with such food the baby receives more harm than good. Nutritionists in such cases are advised to wait a month or two until the season of fresh spring vegetables begins and then feed the child with really healthy food. Until then, children should eat vegetables that tolerate storage in the winter without losing their nutritional properties. It can be carrots, parsley, cabbage, parsnips, leeks, beets.
Nutritional benefits of the season
First of all, eat seasonal food - it is beneficial for the wallet. As a rule, all vegetables, fruits and berries are much cheaper in their season. The reason is that at this time their cultivation does not require additional efforts: fruits and vegetables grow in natural conditions practically by themselves. In addition, the season does not require additional costs for storage and transportation of products from other countries to points of sale.
It's great and nutritious.
Seasonal foods usually have a higher nutritional value than those we use in the off-season. After harvesting and transporting from greenhouses to stores, with each successive day, the amount of nutrients in off-season products quickly decreases. For example, spinach after storage for 7 days in a refrigerator at an average temperature loses 75% of vitamin C and 13% of vitamin B1. A similar process occurs in all other off-season products. Back in 2007, London scientists conducted a study and proved that even milk can be called seasonal. The quality of the product that cows give in the summer is much better than the drink produced in the winter. Another study was conducted in Japan.
Scientists have shown that greens grown in summer contain a richer vitamin composition than winter.
Many health and medical experts agree that seasonal food is a more valuable source of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes necessary for the proper functioning of the body. And some researchers believe that dieting on the basis of seasonal food is the best way to prevent food intolerance, allergies, obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Seasonal food is tastier
Probably many of us are familiar with the taste of winter tomatoes, which does not closely resemble juicy fragrant fruits collected in the summer from the garden. And the greens? If you have tried dill only in summer, when a strong spicy aroma emanates from it, then you will definitely be disappointed by its winter "brother" without the smell and characteristic taste. The same can be said about the berries. Strawberries in summer and in winter are two completely different berries, at least to taste. And all because the product, which was torn off in the summer at the peak of ripeness, has the best taste characteristics. In winter, strawberries are ripped off long before maturity and the berries "reach" in cardboard boxes on the way to your supermarket. Or, on the contrary, the off-season product is treated with chemicals so that it does not overripe and has been stored longer on the shelves of the stores, but this also affects its taste and aroma.
Benefits for the planet
And in the end, the use of seasonal food favorably affects the ecology. To grow seasonal vegetables and fruits, use less chemicals. In addition, less exhaust gases from the transport of overseas products are released into the environment. According to some estimates, the use of seasonal and local products can reduce carbon emissions by about 10%.
How seasons change affects the body's nutritional needs
At this time, the main task of the body is to preserve proteins and fats. Therefore, in the cold days of autumn and winter, the body requires more food that is rich in these nutrients. In the autumn-winter season, the body asks for more rich soups, nuts, grains, proteins in the form of meat and fish. All these products are needed to keep warm. By the way, if we analyze the time of ripening of different fruits in different regions, it becomes clear that nature itself has already taken care that in the fall and winter people could have access to products with the most appropriate chemical composition. During this period it is useful to eat soups, stews, nuts, rye and other cereals, meat, fish, as well as cranberries and beets, which help balance the winter menu.
It is time to clean the body. In the spring, nature encourages people to eat low-fat foods, but with a high percentage of chlorophyll. Food of this type helps to detoxify the body and restore proper intestinal microflora, on which immunity in turn depends. Spring is the time of dandelion and other greens with a bitter taste. These products not only purify the blood, but also improve liver function. In the spring months it is useful to eat green vegetables, leafy greens, sprouts, seasonal berries.
This period is considered the time of hydration and energy. In summer, nature abounds in succulent carbohydrate foods, such as fruits and vegetables, which saturate the body with moisture and help keep it cool. Seasonal products in the summer prevent overheating and dehydration of the body. By the way, it is remarkable that the time of apples falls on the second half of summer and the beginning of autumn. Rich in fiber, they clean the intestines and help strengthen the immune system, and this is a worthy preparation of the body for the fall - the season of viruses and colds. The best products for summer are all fresh vegetables and fruits.
Seasonal food: table by month
|Month||Vegetables||Fruits and berries||Greenery||Nuts, Seeds||Mushrooms|
|January||Artichoke, cabbage, leek, onion, potato, carrot, parsnip, turnip, beet, celery, pumpkin, chicory||Avocado, quince, orange, pear, kiwi, lemon, mandarin, persimmon, apple|
|February||Rutabagas, cabbage, potatoes, leeks, onions, carrots, parsnips, radishes, turnips, Jerusalem artichoke, beets, celery, chicory||Avocado, pineapple, orange, banana, pomegranate, grapefruit, pear, kiwi, lemon mandarin, apple|
|March||Rutabaga, cabbage (white cabbage, Brussels sprout, red), potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, parsnips, radishes, radishes, turnips, celery, beets, horseradish, chicory salad, garlic||Avocado, pineapple, orange, banana, pomegranate, grapefruit, kiwi, lime, lemon, mandarin, apple||Green onions, parsley, ramson|
|April||White cabbage, potatoes, leeks, onions, shallots, carrots, rhubarb, radishes, beets, asparagus, salad chicory, fennel||Avocado, Pineapple, Orange, Banana, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mango||Green onions, cress, parsley, leaf lettuce, dill, ramson, chives, spinach, sorrel|
|May||Cabbage, carrots, cucumber, rhubarb, radishes, asparagus||Strawberries, strawberries, cherries||Basil, green onion, nettle, mint, parsley, arugula, lettuce (cabbage, leaf, lettuce), celery, dill, spinach, sorrel|
|June||Artichoke, eggplant, broccoli, green peas, zucchini, cabbage (white, bok choy), kohlrabi, leek (summer), new potatoes, carrots, cucumber, sweet peppers, tomatoes, rhubarb, radish, radishes, celery, asparagus , green beans, zucchini||Apricot, nectarine, peach, cherry, strawberry, honeysuckle, strawberry, red currant, gooseberry, raspberry, sweet cherry, blueberry||Basil, green onion, cilantro, nettle, watercress, mint, garlic shoots, parsley, rosemary, arugula, lettuce (leaf, headed, lettuce), celery, thyme, chive, sorrel|
|July||Artichoke, eggplant, broccoli, swede, green peas, zucchini, cabbage (white, red, savoyish, color), kohlrabi, summer leek, new potatoes, carrots, cucumber, sweet peppers, tomatoes, rhubarb, radish, radishes, onions onions, beets, celery, green beans, zucchini||Apricot, nectarine, peach, cherry, blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, red currant, gooseberry, raspberry, sweet cherry, black currant, blueberry||Basil, green onion, cilantro, cress, mint, parsley, rosemary, arugula, lettuce (cabbage, lettuce, leaf), celery, thyme, dill, sage, chive, sorrel|
|August||Eggplant, broccoli, swede, peas, daikon, zucchini, cabbage (white, Chinese, red, Savoy, color), potatoes, kohlrabi, corn, summer leek, onion, carrot, cucumber, sweet pepper, radish, radish, beets, celery root and chaff, green beans, fennel, zucchini, garlic||Apricot, lingonberry, grapes, blueberries, pear, melon, blackberry, fig, cranberry, gooseberry, raspberry, nectarine, sea buckthorn, plum, blueberry, apple||Basil, chives, cilantro, cress, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, lettuce (cabbage, leaf), thyme, dill, sage, chives, spinach, sorrel||Walnut, poppy, hazelnut||White mushroom, chanterelles, boletus, honey agaric, boletus, boletus, russule|
|September||Eggplant, broccoli, peas, green peas, zucchini, cabbage (white, Brussels sprouts, savoy, colored), potatoes, corn, onion (leek, onion), carrots, chickpeas, cucumber, parsnip, sweet peppers, tomatoes, turnips, celery, beets, pumpkin, green beans, fennel, horseradish, garlic, lentils||Watermelon, lingonberry, grapes, pear, melon, blackberry, fig, cranberry, nectarine, sea buckthorn, plum, blueberry, apple||Green onions, cress, lettuce, parsley, purslane, dill, spinach||Walnut, hazelnut||White mushroom, chanterelles, boletus, boletus, aspen mushrooms, russules, champignons|
|October||Eggplant, sweet potatoes, broccoli, swede, zucchini, cabbage (white, Brussels sprouts, red, Savoy, cauliflower), parsley root, leek, onion, potatoes, corn, carrots, cucumber, parsnip, sweet pepper, tomato, turnip, celery, beet, Jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin, beans, chicory, garlic||Quince, cowberry, grapes, pomegranate, pear, fig, cranberry, sea buckthorn, plum, persimmon, wild rose, apple||Salad, parsley, purslane, dill, spinach||Peanuts, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnut almonds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds||White mushroom, volushki, chanterelles, boletus, honey agarics, champignons|
|November||Sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, leek, onion, carrot, cucumber, parsnip, squash, sweet pepper, turnip, savoy cabbage, celery, beet, Jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin, beans, fennel, horseradish, chicory, garlic||Quince, pomegranate, pear, fig, kiwi, cranberry, mandarin, plum, persimmon, apple||Walnut, chestnuts||Wolves, Chanterelles, Champignons|
|December||Cabbage, leek, onion, potato, carrot, parsnip, turnip, beet, celery, pumpkin, Jerusalem artichoke||Avocado, quince, pomegranate, grapefruit, pear, kiwi, cranberry, mango, mandarin, persimmon, apple||Almond||Oyster mushrooms, champignons|
As the seasons change, the weather changes, a new available food appears. Each season offers many wonderful products, and with them the opportunity to experiment and diversify your menu. Remember, each season lasts only three months. Have time to try as much as possible from what offers this time of year. Believe me, in other months the seasonal product will not be so tasty and useful.