Seasonal Eating

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This week I have been writing about the importance of connecting to nature for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Of course, it depends upon where you live as to how you do that – but rest assured that you can connect to Mother Earth no matter where you live – even on the 57th floor of a New York apartment building!

No matter where we are, we are held within the embrace of the Mother. I think of the air as her breath, the earth as her body and the water as her blood. In fact, everything that we can perceive with our senses is part of Gaia.

Everyone makes this connection in different ways. For me, living in a rural area on a large block, it is easy. Everywhere I look is nature. To live here is a choice that I have made, following my need to live in a natural environment. That may not be a choice that is available or desirable for you, but it need not matter. Wherever you are, know that you are in the embrace of the mother, feel that as a certainty.

Wherever we are on this diverse and wonderful planet, we are bathed in the light of the sun during the day and the moon and stars at night. Wherever we are, we experience the seasons and the cycles of that land. Wherever we are, we are surrounded by elemental nature – air, fire, water and earth. By enhancing our connection to the sun, the moon, the cycles and elements, we enhance our connection to the Mother, which brings untold benefits, and helps us fulfill part of our human duty – that of caretakers of the Earth.

A good way of plugging into nature wherever you are is to pay attention to the seasons and to eat accordingly. This concept is two-fold:

  1. In summer, we eat lightly. It is natural to eat salads, stir fries and other simple, fresh foods when it is hot. Often, we are not as hungry in the heat: honour that. We drink more water and eat more fruit to cool ourselves. In winter, we require heavier, more complex foods to keep us warm. We find ourselves craving soups, stews and casseroles. We eat more protein, brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) and root vegetables: all of this is perfectly normal and appropriate to the season. In Spring and Autumn, the transition seasons, our bodies tend to want to cleanse. We may eat soup or juices or just rice for a few days to give our body a break and to help it move into the new season.
  2. The other way of eating seasonally is to become aware of what food grows when. We have gotten into the habit of wanting to have everything all the time. We expect a constant, all year round supply of things that naturally have quite short seasons. In order for us to have cherries in the winter, asparagus in the autumn or oranges in the summer, food has to be bought in from other countries, from other climates. Yes, I can eat asparagus from Peru, and cherries and navel oranges from the US – but why? The cost to the environment of flying this food in for our convenience is more than what you might think. The other aspect to this refers back to the previous point: sweet, juicy fruit is perfect to eat in summer, but not so good for us in winter. The fresh Asparagus points are an ideal spring food, but not so much in Autumn. The orange, packed with vitamin C and antioxidant, perfect for the winter, tends to be too acidic in the summer.

It is well worth while to educate yourself about what kind of food grows when in your country. Eating like this not only makes sense for your body, but it makes sense for the environment too.

23 comments

  1. I find your suggestions very useful and profound.
    I feel we are given what we need by nature and mother earth, but mostly because of our ego, desires, greed and pseudo-needs we have created a culture in which we want what we don’t necessarily need, which ends up making us have what we don’t need and we suffer.

    One level deeper, it goes with the practice of acceptance of life, about which you talk so often in your columns.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    Love and light ❤

    Anand 🙂

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  2. Has your blog had another mini makeover, or am I imagining things? 😉
    I crave a connection with nature, and – like you – consider her the Mother of all of us (whether we like to admit it or not). I was just thinking this morning that it’s almost time, here in the northern hemisphere, for the clementines to arrive in the market … not those awful-tasting, tough things they’ve been passing off as clementines for the last two months, but the actual, season-ripe fruits that are such a treat during the holidays. Though they are flown in from warmer climes, I look forward to them each year.

    And, I also look forward to the locally grown produce that comes with each season – strawberries in the spring, lettuces and beans and tomatoes in the summer, corn and pumpkins in the autumn. And then – over the cold winter – delighting in, as you mentioned, whipping up stews and fresh bread and all kinds of other warming comfort foods.

    There is something calming and grounding about allowing our daily lives to swing into sync with the seasons. I often find that my writing follows a seasonal path, too. I frequently write about seasonal changes in the natural world for my bi-weekly newspaper column, and even on my blog I have been known to give a nod to Mother Nature’s changing moods. It helps me to feel, as you said, connected … to something bigger than myself … something that sustains me, but which I must also care for.

    It’s a complex relationship, but a vital one – to our health, and the Earth’s.

    Thanks for the great post!

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    • You are imagining things 🙂 My subject matter has had a makeover though, if that’s what you mean!
      There IS something calming and grounding about synchronising with the seasons, which is exactly why I was writing about it. It may not seem like much, but it’s the little things.
      Of course, i live in a part of the world with a long growing season. I have a friend who lives in Michigan who adhered strictly to seasonal eating for many years, but who has recently embraced the idea of getting some fresh veg from Southern America, simply because it was impacting on her family’s health to be eating preserved stuff for so long. SO, like all things, temperance 🙂 But eating seasonally is beautiful, and so simple.
      Oh, and what are clementines?

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    • Good morning Ardys – It’s wonderful being in tune with our bodies and the seasons isn’t it? I know my yoga practice changes with the seasons and I tend to get up earlier in the summer and later in the winter (it’s just too damn cold in winter!). It keeps things fresh but reassuring in a cyclical way ❤

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  3. Beautifully written. I love that we can honour the earth – taking note of how amazing mother nature is to make sure we have the foods we need at the best time of the year- and ourselves by making good food choices, and also the producers whose livelihood it is.
    Eating seasonally is so obvious, and other than preserving food ourselves what happened until the omnipotent supermarkets waved their magic wands and voilà we could eat anything we wanted all year round and half the time we don’t even need to prepare it ourselves. Just ignore the plastic packaging… and that underneath the enchantment lies the sorcery… food miles, cold storage, eco vandalism and the never ending quest for profits…
    On the weekend we bought a punnet of organic local cherries from the farmers market – $4. No magic necessary. Bliss. I’m happy to eat and enjoy them even only once a year rather than the lesser out-of- season offerings more often.

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    • ‘underneath the enchantment lies the sorcery’ – yes, indeed. My language was mild in my post, but I think it’s a crime what they are doing with food on a global scale. That’s what happens when money becomes the bottom line. To us eating seasonally is obvious…but I know there are many, many people who don’t live like that – and for who it would never occur to eat in that way. There is a lot of ignorance out there. We do what we can, right?
      AS for your organic cherries (swoon). I love cherries – I am not a fruity person, but I enjoy the beautiful in season cherries as well. My daughter has been hanging out for grapes – and of course they have the grapes from the US in winter, which I say she can’t have – we must wait for the Australian grape season to start. She gets it, but you know, it’s annoying. This is the thing about humans though – we’re greedy. Sad but true.

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  4. I truly appreciate the view of the sea from my home, every single day. It sustains me and brings me such joy. The surrounding lush greens of the Pacific NW, the mountains… wherever I am, I am always connecting with nature. I can’t imagine living any other way! Great post, Sara. xo

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    • Yes, Dawn! I am surrounded by the majesty of nature every day as well – not the coastal magnificence of the Pacific NW, but green rolling hills, bubbling creeks and flowering trees outdoing themselves in rivalled splendour (lol can you tell that I am studying poetry in English Lit at the moment???) Seriously though, we are very privileged. Have a beautiful week Dawn xo

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  5. Sara, food and how to benefit most from it is another area in which I am ignorant, so I thank you for your tips.Fortunately, I live in a region in the U.S. that’s called “America’s breadbasket,” so much of what we we eat here is home grown. Thanks for the post.

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    • Hi David, I was thinking of you the other day! Ah, yes – it is helpful to live in an area where lots of food is grown. The area where I live is mainly dairy and beef cattle farmers, but there are also fruit and nut orchards and market Gardeners. My partner manages a farm with 2500 olive trees (rare in this area because not an ideal climate for olives but he gets a harvest).
      I hope you and Diana are well.
      Xo

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      • It’s nice to be thought about. I think about you too. A farm of 2500 olive trees–that’s a lot of olive trees. I hope you and your family are well too and looking forward to the holiday season.

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  6. Also, I think if we really listen to our bodies they actually crave fruits and vegetables when they are naturally in season. I crave watermelon like ALL summer long and eat it. But come winter it just doesn’t appeal to me. The local markets actually sell imported watermelons but I look at it and don’t have the same need I do in the summer for it. I’m sure there are tons of researched evidence based studies on this but I’m just going with what my body feels and what it doesn’t. Thank you for the healthful reminder. Hope you have a lovely Holiday Season, dear friend! ❤

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    • Yes definitely, Tahira – that’s the beautiful thing – our bodies are in tune with the seasons as well, even if we don’t know it! Although my daughter seems to have some kind of all year round watermelon craving thing…I don’t understand it myself, because I am not a melon person at all!

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  7. Hi Sara, I was little tied up so couldn’t read all you earlier post, also had to move to a new domain (www.makeupandbreakup.com), will catch up on all your pending ones and looking forward to our exchange of thoughts from the new place.

    Have a lovely weekend.
    😀

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      • I can understand Sara, things changes and so is the case here, just strayed away from blogging, business and work taken the precedence…yes, you must be busy in preparation for the Christmas and New Year….
        Have a wonderful Christmas and fascinating New Year.
        😀

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