Olivias Cuisine

We’ve all heard the adage that you need to “eat with the seasons.” Your mom might’ve had a garden when you were younger, touting zucchini, strawberries, and cucumber for weeks (even months) at a time. And, of course, if you weren’t giving that produce away to neighbors and friends, you were trying to figure out how to incorporate it with every meal. Tomatoes in your eggs, tomatoes on your sandwiches, tomatoes as a side.

It’s true that eating seasonally has several health, environmental, and sustainable benefits. For one, in-season fruits and vegetables pack the most minerals, nutrients, and healthy sugars as compared to when they’re grown out-of-season. They do not need to be genetically or phenotypically modified in order to grow in different conditions, and those alterations might result in decreased nutritional value. Produce grown in-season uses the resources they need in the conditions in which they thrive; obviously, they’re the healthiest for you, the consumer; for the land; and for the people and communities cultivating the produce.

If you’re interested in a more in-depth exploration of the ways--besides nutritional benefits — that eating with the seasons is fantastic for you and your community, check out this scholarly source.  

What is considered seasonal for me?

A quick Google search will tell you that there are different levels of “seasonality.” There’s seasonal on the global scale; there’s seasonal for your town or city; there’s locally versus seasonally grown; the list continues. A good rule of thumb is thinking about the climate of your place at a given time. Say, for instance, I’m located in Nebraska in February. Strawberries or bananas wouldn’t be growing naturally there; I would assume that they were shipped in from a warmer part of the world. This method isn’t always foolproof, as it centers the specificity of a given place. If you’re more concerned about domestic seasonality; i.e., if a product is shipped in from a different state versus internationally, then this approach expands your scope. Here’s a useful resource for exploring the connections between place, time, and the yield of the land.

Despite the differing definitions of what eating “in-season” is, we’ve compiled a working (and really intuitive) list of different seasonal foods to seek out. 

Citrus

A source of Vitamin C, sour sweetness, and sunshine--citrus fruits (and especially different kinds of oranges/mandarins/clementines) are IN during peak winter months! In more southern U.S. states and in California, these blossoms come to fruition in January and February. Not only do citrus fruits taste like warmer weather, but they provide significant antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals for warding off the sicknesses of the winter months. The surplus of Vitamin C in citruses supports immune function and cellular repair; more often than not, you’ll hear about eating these kinds of fruits when running a fever. (Think Emergen-C, too: they use citrus based nutrients to radically support immune function.)

Soups

Winter also has an abundance of root vegetables in season: potatoes, carrots, winter squash, dark leafy greens, etc. While they can be enjoyed on their own, we suggest making soups with these veggies. For one, soups are an excellent means to support the body’s immune function: tons of veggies with nutrients, a hot broth to raise core body temperature, a tool for hydration and water retention. They’re an excellent means to naturally support immunity and/or a compromised immune system, especially during cold & flu season. Soup is also relatively easy to make, can be frozen and stored for multiple uses, and is an excellent way to adhere to seasonal veggie growth.

Besides soups, try to focus on meals that a.) incorporate seasonal produce, b.) are rich in nutrients/antioxidants/minerals, c.) are prepared to “counteract” the cold of the winter. To this last point, cooking your food in different ways might help to both enhance their nutritiousness and their winter appeal. Instead of cooking your eggs sunny side-up, maybe poach or boil them. Instead of making a caprese salad, try to use the vegetables that you know are in season, 

Gaia Herbs

Meats & fish

While we typically think of “seasonal” foods in terms of produce--like the aforementioned citrus and root vegetables--there are also seasonal meats and seafood products, depending on where you’re situated in the world. There isn’t necessarily a “rule of thumb” for meat seafood products (like produce products); rather, their seasonality is really contingent on place. For seafood products, take lobsters as an example: lobsters in Maine peak between June to December, while lobsters in Florida and California peak between late August to March. If you buy your seafood frozen, then you can check where it’s been sourced from. Like seafood, meat products always seem readily available, but only a few non-livestock animals are in-season at a given time. Turkey, venison, rabbit, and goose are all in-season for winter, but it’s difficult to locate or purchase these meats without hunting them yourself. Don’t beat yourself up about in-season meat. 

On a final note--we hope you’ll try eating seasonally. It’s good for you, our earth, our future generations, and our farming communities. There are so many resources at your disposal for sourcing your food locally and intentionally. Use these resources!

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