Health and environmental tips on the importance of eating seasonal food by top nutritionist, Juliet Norman.
Grapevine member Juliet Norman, has kindly put a short piece together for us about the importance of seasonal eating. She is brilliant so if you need any nutritional advice, please get in touch with her.
Seasonal eating and nutrition
(Brussel sprouts with shallots, roasted veggies and parsley)
The great call to action to combat climate change and adjust habits that are detrimental to our environment is beginning to be addressed and we must all get behind it. However, there are further alterations that we can make to help preserve the planet and hopefully lead us to better health. One bit of advice is that we revert to living in line with the seasons.
(Blitzed veggies with a homemade bone broth - a mineral-rich and nutritional haven)
Our natural surroundings are seen to adjust when the seasons change, as do we in many ways: Most of us wear different clothes to suit the weather and heat our houses accordingly but do we always eat what the season offers us? It is quite easy to forget what month we are in when we see a fairly permanent array of fruit and vegetables on our supermarket shelves.
(Sweet potato salad with watercress, ginger, pumpkin seeds and soy; courtesy of Sarah raven's book 'Good Good Food')
In general, we think of eating salads in summer and warm hearty soups and casseroles in winter – this is a natural response to the climate’s demands. When it is hot we want light, cooling food and when it is cold we desire something more comforting and warming. Luckily for us nature provides this. In the cold months there is an abundance of root vegetables that provide us with more energy to keep ourselves warm and in the summer months the lighter salad type vegetables grow. This month’s UK vegetables, fruit and herbs are:
• Pumpkin, Turnip, Beetroot, Jerusalem Artichoke, Broccoli, Carrot, Cauliflower, White Cabbage, Savoy Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Chicory, Beet Tops, Endive, Fennel, Winter lettuce, Leek, Red Radicchio, Spinach,
• Apple, Pear, Kiwi, Citrus – oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit
• Rosemary, Bay
Never forget our culinary herbs – they have many health benefits as well as seasoning our food! Rosemary, for example, can be used to boost poor circulation and can help our liver function. It is an anti-oxidant combating free-radical damage while also having a wonderful anti-microbial action supporting gut health and on top of this is reputed to aid mental performance!
(Courgetti spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce - ideal for using up an abundance of courgettes and very simple and quick to make; an ideal weekday supper)
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the aim for total wellness is to balance the Yin and the Yang. All foods are classed as to which yin or yang thermal property they provide and these foods are then used to balance the amount of yin and yang present in the body promoting equilibrium and health. This is useful to bear in mind as to me this resonates with the concept of eating seasonally.
Eating seasonally is one thing but another step is to eat food produced locally. Obviously this keeps our carbon footprint down but it also supports our local communities, something too that has been somewhat usurped in the age of self-sufficiency in everything we do. There can also be health benefits to eating local produce – eating locally produced raw honey is reputed to help combat seasonal allergies. The mechanism is that raw local honey may contain local pollen that causes the body to’ wise-up’ and thus lessen the potential allergic reaction.
(The importance of using leftovers! Roast chicken and veg soup from Sunday lunch - heat and blend; easy-peasy!)
A health benefit for sure is that we can often access local vegetables and fruit as soon as they are harvested. Local, fresh produce can be picked when it is ripe, unlike food that is transported from afar and is often picked un-ripe and often artificially ripened, sometimes with chemicals. Fresh ripe, local fruit and vegetables are likely to contain more micro-nutrients that benefit our health than their equivalents that have travelled from afar. Also, locally produced food often comes from small-scale farmers who often use less pesticides – you can get to know your local farmers and ask them. Apart from the obvious health benefits of using fewer or no pesticides in growing a food, the plants develop more phytonutrients than they would as a heavily sprayed crop. Phytonutrients are produced by plants to protect them from their predators. Therefore the more they are protected artificially the less phytonutrients they need to produce. Phytonutrients are found in different forms in plants depending on their type and colour and in their different forms help to fight chronic disease – chronic disease is an enormous and growing burden on our National Health System.
In summary, eating seasonal and locally produced produce can benefit our communities and our health and importantly may help to preserve our planet – let’s get too it in any way that we find fits with our busy lifestyles. It’s worth it!
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