As I wrote about last week, spring officially starts March 20 and that means it is time to get your garden ready for the season. The beginning of spring has long been associated with food and ancient cultures celebrated not only its return, but also the return of their food supply.
That is probably why March is always declared “National Nutrition Month” by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association). This year’s theme is “Get Your Plate in Shape” and as they state on their web site, “the campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”
To get healthier, the Academy recommends that you take a good look at your current diet and see if you are eating enough fruits and veggies. They encourage people to add a serving each day to one meal and increase it every few weeks.
And, to “Get Your Plate in Shape,” they recommend that you make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, and eat a wide variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables plus beans and peas.
But even if you don’t grow your own food, you can still get fresh, tasty produce by doing as they recommend and looking locally for your fruits and vegetables. This means shopping at farmers’ markets because local varieties are usually fresher and pack more nutrients. Freshness is probably the biggest benefit to shopping at a farmer’s market. Often, farmers pick their fruit or vegetables just a day, or even hours, before the market. Not only does this make the produce taste better, it is better for you because it does not lose any vitamins or minerals sitting in a warehouse or traveling thousands of miles.
They also remind us that it’s not only a great way to eat well, but by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables in season, you will save money.
Seasonal eating also gives you a greater variety and even more freshness. As spring gets closer and closer, seasonal eating becomes easier with more and more items coming into season each week. Seasonal eating is based on purchasing foods during their natural (or seasonal) growing times. This means you are eating them when they are at their freshest. Not only are they fresher, but they are tastier too.