Leading a healthy lifestyle means taking advantage of seasonal produce.
Health experts and chefs both often say that leading a healthy lifestyle means that you should eat “seasonally,” or include foods in your diet that are grown at the same time of the year you eat them. For example, that means squash in the summer and fall, and artichokes in the spring. Eating seasonally is important to leading a healthy lifestyle, and carries lots of other benefits as well.
At first glance, eating seasonally may seem simple—you eat foods that are “in season,” or being grown and harvested at the time of the year when you buy and cook them. That’s true, but there’s more to it than just being a trendy food movement. There are real benefits to leading a healthy lifestyle by selecting foods that are available at their peak season.
Leading a Healthy Lifestyle by Incorporating Seasonal Foods
Leading a healthy lifestyle is simplified by incorporating seasonal foods. Not only do they have health benefits, but they can help the planet and your wallet.
• Save Money
Perhaps the biggest tangible benefit of eating seasonally is that you’ll save money on food. When you buy what’s in season, you buy food that’s at the peak of its supply, and costs less to farmers and distribution companies to harvest and get to your grocery store. It may seem like common sense, but it’s one of those things many of us ignore when we’re shopping.
• Eat Healthier
However, the best consequence of eating seasonally is that you get the best tasting, healthiest food available. The same reasons that keep the cost of seasonal food down also drive its quality up: The food is grown closer to you so it doesn’t spoil on its trip, it’s harvested at the peak of its season (although there’s no real guarantee that it’s picked at the peak of freshness), and sold during its season, before it spoils. Ideally, this means you’re getting fruits and vegetables that haven’t had time to lose their flavor or their health benefits by sitting in a shipping container for a trip across the ocean.
The reverse is true for foods that are out of season. They have to be shipped from around the world to get to you, usually picked before the peak of their flavor in order to survive the long trip (or be allowed to mature while they travel) to your local grocery store. As a result, they’re much more expensive because of the time, the distance, and the sheer number of people involved with getting those food items to you that need to be paid.
• Help the Planet and Local Farmers
If you buy locally, you’ll have a better chance at getting foods that are seasonal, fresh, and support local farmers and businesses in your community. Shop at a nearby farmer’s market or food co-op, or support a local farm by signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project (or other fresh food delivery service.) Many of those farms and businesses also offer organic or sustainable options if you’re looking for them. You may wind up spending more to put your money where your taste buds (or personal ethics) are, but it may be a tradeoff that’s worthwhile to you in the long run.
• Get a Wider Variety of Foods in Your Diet
A pleasant side-effect of eating what’s in season is that you get a broader variety of foods in your diet. Those foods can broaden your palate and also expose you to dishes and ingredients you may not have otherwise explored. This can also help you eat a more well-rounded and balanced diet. Expanding your horizons a little more can open the door to more delicious food that you can get and prepare cheaply.
Summer Fruit and Spinach Salad
Take advantage of summer fruits and add this salad to leading a healthy lifestyle.
This end-of-summer salad uses plenty of juicy fruits for a bright start to a meal. Add blue cheese for a contrast in flavors, if you like.
Ingredients (serves 4)
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
• 1 cup bite-size chunks cantaloupe
• 1 cup bite-size chunks honeydew
• 1 cup bite-size chunks pineapple
• 1 cup loosely packed baby spinach
• 1 cup halved red grapes
• 2 tablespoons crumbled Maytag blue cheese (optional)
• 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1. Whisk together the honey, lemon juice and poppy seeds in a large bowl.
2. Add cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, spinach, grapes and blue cheese and toss gently to coat.
3. Transfer salad to plates and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.
Nutrition (per serving)
Click here to read full recipe to help with leading a healthy lifestyle.