I love food. I love to cook and bake all year long for myself or my family and friends. When a new season arrives, I am very excited to make dishes that are in season. It wasn't until recently that I finally took a step back to look at why I only made certain dishes during particular times of the year.
As we head into the fall and winter seasons, I have noticed that I have started to eat more of certain vegetables such as squash, zucchini and bush beans. After talking to my mom, she said that when I was growing up, we usually ate these foods during this time of year, and I thought it was odd that I hadn't noticed until now.
I usually would eat whatever was made for dinner and not think much of it, but now, as I cook for myself, I have begun to note the significance of the foods I am buying. Eating seasonal food tastes better, provides you with higher nutritional value, supports your body's natural nutritional needs, is environmentally better and supports local farmers.
By encouraging a varied diet, seasonal eating not only tastes better, but it also shows higher nutritional value. Food typically has a higher vitamin and mineral count when produced in its own season rather than in other seasons. For example, broccoli's vitamin C content is higher in the fall than in other seasons because it is typically a cool season vegetable.
Another cool season food is citrus fruits. Citrus fruits ripen during the winter season and are also excellent sources of vitamin C, which aids in boosting our immune systems during flu season. This winter, try adding slices of lemon or lime to your water or have grapefruit with sprinkled sugar for breakfast.
Sweet potatoes are typically available year-round, but they thrive in the fall and winter. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. One way I incorporate sweet potatoes into my diet is to make sweet potato fries. They are my absolute favorite side dish to make for dinner.
Eating with the seasons can be as beneficial to the environment as it is to you. When food is grown and harvested during its natural season, it is naturally formed without having to artificially create the seasonal environment. In turn, it won’t waste as much water and energy during the growing process. Foods that are harvested outside of their natural season are often not as fresh and have to travel long distances to go to areas where they typically can't be produced.
When eating seasonally, you can get locally sourced foods because they have been recently harvested, which benefits the farmers who produce them. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources provides a list of local food near you. During the fall and winter seasons, you can support farmers by buying local goods from apple orchards or pumpkin patches.
As Halloween approaches, some people may begin carving pumpkins. Instead of throwing the inside of the pumpkin in the trash, pick out the seeds and add them to your salads, granola or use them in homemade brittle. This way you are supporting farmers and yourself, killing two birds with one stone.
As someone who has failed in the battle against seasonal allergies and ends up hating themselves for praying for the first frost to come soon, I have learned alternatives to help deal with these issues. Eating local honey has been shown to help lessen coughs and colds, which, for me, are common occurrences with seasonal allergies. Buying honey from your area can benefit local honey producers, such as Valhalla Bee Farm and Humble & Kind Honey.
Since honey is best harvested in summer and early fall, try to get your honey before winter hits. I incorporate honey into a lot of what I consume. I like to add it to sweeten my tea or put it on biscuits for a sweet treat. There are many ways to support local harvesters and also help yourself.
Your eating habits do not need to rely solely on seasonal foods. There is a good chance that you may not be craving seasonal foods or not like certain types of foods. Whatever you eat is up to you, but knowing the benefits of foods based on the season we are in can help broaden your palate.
There are benefits when it comes to eating with the seasons. When we eat every day, it becomes important to look at what we are eating and what we could be eating. Eating seasonally can be good for you, the environment and local farmers. Next time you are grocery shopping, take a look at what is in season and see what delicious meals you could make with those foods.
Alexis Goeman is a sophomore journalism and ADPR major. Reach her at email@example.com.