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Seasonal Eating

Anyone else find it harder to eat healthily in this ridiculously cold 2021 Spring season than they normally do? I am craving hot chocolate, pastries, maybe even a suet pudding and custard, and definitely a rich meat and root veg stew. It got me to thinking more about seasonal eating.

We all know that seasonal eating is better for the planet (less mileage, less chemical input etc) but there is now increasing evidence that seasonal eating is also better for us.

Firstly, and not surprisingly, the food (we are talking fruit and veg here really) is likely to have more general micronutrients (vitamin and mineral content) in it. It will be relatively more local and so has been picked ripe (rather than under-ripe to allow for long travel time) and it has not sat for so long between picking and consumption. As a plant matures or ripens it draws more nutrients from the soil / converts more from the sun so its nutritional value increases. As it sits once picked, before eating, micronutrients start to degrade and so its nutritional value reduces. … so veg from across the world has the double whammy of not having had so long to gain vitamin and mineral content whilst ripening, and losing much of the little it did have in transit.

Secondly, the food we produce local to where we live, is dictated by soil and climate conditions…. and we, it transpires are also affected by those conditions. What we need in terms of nutrition in the the winter, is slightly different to what we need in the summer. Water rich fruits and vegetables grow in the summer – preventing us from dehydrating, along with fruits such as tomatoes that contain caratinoids to help our skin protect against sun damage. In the autumn and winter we get the rich, heavier root vegetables that give us increased starches to help us guard against the cold – both by giving energy to produce more internal body heat, and by making us fatter – literally giving us the ability to put on a layer of insulating fat. We also get the really dark green winter cabbages – full of compounds that help beat the winter blues. In the spring many of our native seasonal veg contain high levels of antioxidants to help rejuvenate our bodies after the winter shut-down.

So I guess the reason I am still craving those high energy, high starch foods, is that the weather is still cold and grey and miserable. I still need energy to create my own warmth. And the reason I’m still craving chocolate? – At this time of year I am usually increasing my serotonin levels through sunlight exposure… but without that I need the tryptophan of chocolate to do the same thing.

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Published by ecogreengp

GP, Wife, Mum, Climate Activist, Enthusiastic Cook. Owner of a car named Leafy, a cat named Biscuit and a hamster named Carrot. Disorganised beyond belief. .... sometimes I don't even put my shoes on.

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