From Our Chefs

Season of Flavor: Improve Your Health, Taste of Meals and Save Money

Lighten up man, summer is here!

Most of us are granted the luxury of being able to hit the grocery store and buy avocados, strawberries and various fruits and vegetables year round. While the advent of modern transportation has led to an eclectic array of food for us to pick from, many of us have no idea which foods are in season where we live.

Summer Spread
Photographer: Sara Dubler | Source: Unsplash

Why Does This Matter?

Seasonal eating is a practice that dates back to our ancestors who had to directly rely on the land for their next meal. The ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda especially embraces adjusting one’s diet with the season. Ayurvedic tradition embraces the idea the human body is a part of the same ecology that is ever changing. Eating spring peas when flowers are blooming in the spring or enjoying hearty squash when the leaves are falling in autumn, for example. This practice has many benefits for our health and the environment that have been proven by modern science.

A Good Rule of Thumb

During summer months, it’s a good idea to incorporate lighter, more hydrating foods into our diet. Think light fruits and greens such as watermelon and cucumbers. On the flip side, when the weather cools down, it’s great to reach for heartier, warming ingredients. Think root vegetables and dark leafy greens such as carrots and collards.

Take your Meals from Good.. to WOW

In season ingredients just simply taste better. You may remember our conversation with Tim, Chef and Farmer, from a past blog. Clearly a big proponent of seasonal produce “There’s a different taste and texture to your meals" he explains.

Don’t believe us? try a tomato from a friends garden or hit up a local farmers market and taste for yourself.

Photographer: FitNish Media | Source: Unsplash

Personal Health

Many health-nuts focus on Macro Nutrients (Carbs, Fats, and Proteins). However, Micro Nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc) are also incredibly important and have a huge impact on your overall health.

Foods that are grown and eaten during when they’re in season have the most bang for their buck. Studies show that produce maintains higher levels of vitamins and nutrients during their peak seasons.

When foods are grown out of season, they don’t follow their natural ripening rhythms. Ripening agents and other post-harvest treatments are often used so that certain fruits and vegetables are available year-round. These ripening agents include edible coatings, heat treatments and a long list of chemicals and gasses we can’t even begin to pronounce.

Just like any processed food, even processed fruits and vegetables can have a negative impact on your health.

Beyond physical health, researchers believe that seasonal eating has a positive impact on mental/emotional health. Cambridge University published a study stating that “the promotion of seasonal food also has an important role in reconnecting people with the origins of the food they eat.” We all want to feel connected, right?

Photographer: Megan Markham | Source: Unsplash

Environmental Health

At College Chefs, we love to track and predict food trends. One trend we’ve been discussing for sometime now is the local food movement. Shopping for local produce and visiting farmers markets are some of the best ways to find what’s fresh in season, right now.

Not only does this practice support local farmers, but it has a great impact on the environment as well. Think about it: How many miles did your produce have to travel to reach your grocery store shelf? All of those miles equate to fuel emissions and the release of pollutants into the atmosphere.

According to the Congressional Research Service, over half of fruits and nearly a third of vegetables or imported into the US. “The United States has gone from being a net exporter of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables in the early 1970s to being a net importer of fruits and vegetables today.”

We’re not here asking you to give up your avocado toast in February, but rather to be mindful of the effects long distance travel has on your food.

$$$

Local/seasonal produce tends to be cheaper. It’s simple supply and demand here people, when a fruit or veggie is in season and overly abundant, the price drops. It’s no coincidence that apples are abundant during apple pie season.

Shopping During Social Distancing

The great news is that many farmers markets have stayed open through recent shut downs. If you’re at risk or don’t feel comfortable venturing out, many farmers markets are offering curbside pick up and delivery. Some brands that traditionally sell at a market are even operating on Postmates! A quick Google search will lead you in the right direction to scoring local, in season food near you.

So are you a local produce aficionado or are you just now jumping in the game? Let us know your favorite ingredient of the season on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!

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