Seasonal & Local: Good for the Planet & Your Body

One of the biggest questions I get from clients is, “What should I eat?”

And I totally get why! They have not only been overfed on processed food, but also on diet dogma, leaving most folks more confused than ever before. They want clarity and they want an answer.

Sometimes, it frustrates people when I don’t give them an answer that’s black and white. And I don’t do that for good reasons.

First, we are all so damn unique. When I was a student at IIN, I really learned the concept of bio-individuality and that what might make one person thrive could make another feel lackluster at best. There has to be an openness to experiment, try different foods, and figure out what is a true match.

Second, even when we do that, we have to also realize that what works at one time for us may not work so well in the future. Now there are a load of reasons why that may be true, but one of the universal truths is that seasons not only change the weather, they inevitably change what foods show up on our plate.

Well, ideally they would. The problem is, most of us are so far removed from our true connection to food that we don’t even think to consider how seasonal and local food should play a factor in our “what should I eat?” dilemma.

When we allow what is seasonally available to help dictate the greater part of what’s on our plate, we are actually eating the way nature intended and tuning into our intuitive nature around food.

All on her own, Mother Nature gives you exactly what you need at just the right time.

Fall and winter got you chilled to the bone? Warm up with seasonal favorites such as butternut squash or sweet potatoes.

Feeling weighed down after the heavier food of winter? No problem – enjoy lighter seasonal spring fare such as berries, dandelion, and an assortment of greens.

Need to beat the summer heat? Enjoy the cooling effects of foods such as watermelon, cucumber, and summer salads.

Obviously, you add and take out what you need based on your personal preferences but the general idea is the nature has it oh-so-right if only we would listen.  Eating this way takes care of the bodies changing seasonal needs and also allows us to have a beautifully varied diet, making sure we don’t get into a nutritional or culinary rut.

But here’s the extra bonus. When we eat seasonal, we also typically eat more local fare, which gives our planet and our local farmers a much needed boost. On average, food travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. That’s not only insane, but also terribly destructive to the environment, not to mention local growers. Think of all the planes, trains, and automobiles that it takes to get that mango to your table in the dead of winter. (And I won’t even get into the whole “organic and sustainably grown issues”…that’s a whole other post. )

When you adopt a seasonal and in turn local approach to eating, you are able to connect to your food at a whole other level. A big part of that includes hitting up your local farmers’ markets. My fiance Mike and I relish our weekly trips to them. We love talking to the very farmers’ who grow our veggies, and we get to get the inside scoop on the practices they use to grow them.  We have a relationship with them. We love how they will carefully pick out the most perfectly ripened peaches for us or, because they know how much we adore them, warn us to grab as many Meyer Lemons as possible because the season is ending in two weeks. We wait in anticipation for cherry season to come, much in the same way we can’t wait for fall squashes to arrive. We feel connected to our community that much more and our meals take on a whole different meaning.

When you are connected to your food in this rich kind of way, diet dogma loses its appeal and food becomes pleasurable again.

Now again, I’m not saying that everything you eat has to be 100 percent seasonal and local. I would love to be at the place but truthfully I have some non-local indulgences. However, I would say about 90 percent of what we eat is and eating this way has not only changed my relationship to food, it’s also deepened my relationship to my own home, our one and only precious planet.

So the next time you are left wondering,”what should I eat?” check to see what’s fresh, seasonal, and local. The answers will be come clearer with each passing season.

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.

11 comments

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

yum! we grow our own fruits and veggies. love them all!

Amy G.
Amy G.3 years ago

Great article, Anita. I think it's important that people really pay attention to how they feel after they eat a meal made with local, in-season food and then compare that to how they feel after eating a typical "flown around the world" meal. Local food tastes better and is digested more easily! When I was in nutrition school, we did a blind taste test, comparing a local organic berry to a conventional one. About 95% of us correctly identified the local berry. So much better!

Joan Mcallister
.3 years ago

Thanks for this interesting & informative article

Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago

This was a great article. As soon as Anita said she didn't have a one-formula-fits-all recommendation, I knew the rest of the article would be worth reading. One of the key words she used was 'listen'. It takes some doing, but listening - i.e. paying attention to the immediate and long term responses you have after a meal, and learning something from it - makes a huge difference in your choices.

KS Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Will Rogers
Will Rogers3 years ago

In England in the spring, we produce too many strawberries for ourselves. We process as much as we can and give away a substantial amount, but there is always too much. We don't want to plough it into the fields so are thankful that we can export it to say... Australia! Where they don't have fresh strawberries at this time of year. And in September (their spring) they have a surplus of strawberries too and so export them across the world to us! World trade is a good thing. There is a lot of poverty in the world that is alleviated by world trade. You have to remember that the world is round and quite small and getting smaller. Jingoism is so last century. We need new models for new times, we need a more efficient world trade and we need MORE world trade, not less you crazy people! Of course you can eat locally if you want! That's nice. But remember that most of the crops you are eating locally actually originated from other parts of the world, whether it's cabbages or sweetcorn or strawberries, and what about people? You are also the results of world trade. Every white American is not 'local produce' but rather imported. So you really want to be local? Then go back to Europe.

Barb Hansen
Ba H.3 years ago

can't wait for local farmers market season!

Sean Chung
Sean Chung3 years ago

Thanks.

Shelley R.
Shelley R.3 years ago

I agree with Green B. My mom taught me to eat what is in season and fresh is best. Frozen & canned veggies are good but check where they come from.

Randi Levin
Randi Levin3 years ago

Good Info.

However, 1500 miles does not include all that produce that is coming from Chilie---thousands and thousands of miles away! Yes 1-2 American growers and famous name are now growing much of thier produce down in Chilie paying piddlins at best to the workers and then it gets boxed, transferred to a ship where it takes a couple a couple weeks to get to the states and then it must be distributed by truck throughout much of the states! And we wonder why Spinach, tomatoes go bad so quick or why some grapes are sour or peaches that never seem to ripen for they were pciked too soon!
On a personal not, I WILL NOT purchase fruits or produce in a bag labled from Chilie for I refuse to put my body at risk or support slave labor!
This is partially why I support Stocking up for Health during the summer months when produce is more local and provided by local farmers!.