Here and Now Food
“Hmm, sure wish it was springtime so I could wear shorts and a tank top for my run today. But it’s so bitterly cold and windy, I guess it’ll be sweats and fleece again. Come to think of it, I’ll just skip the frigid run and use my treadmill!”
I doubt many people give even that much thought to adapting their behavior to a given season. Basically, we all make choices and act based on the conditioning and lessons we’ve learned since day one. We simply develop a ‘knowing’ as to which choices and circumstances will make us feel most comfortable, and we act accordingly, with hardly a second thought. We wouldn’t think of subjecting our outer body to shocking temperatures and conditions. Instead, our ‘knowing’ adapts to the changing seasons, creating balance by leading us to choices that produce comfort.
But what about our inner body and its need for comfort and balance? Have we developed a ‘knowing’ which enables us to adapt our food choices to the seasons? – Does it even occur to us to question our choices? For instance, ‘It’s winter; maybe I should trade my cold cereal for a hot oatmeal porridge instead, which probably will warm me up’, or ‘It’s too cold for fresh strawberries with cream, maybe a better dessert choice would be the apple strudel’.
Thanks to modern means of refrigeration, preservation and transportation, we can enjoy strawberries in December and yams in July. But is that ideal? The human body is working constantly to maintain internal balance, a challenging task given the chaos and constant motion of modern life. Eating ‘out of season’ adds to this challenge as the body becomes out of sync with the balance naturally occurring in nature. A good example is how the proper temperature of the body, so vital to health and well-being, can be thrown out of balance simply by eating out-of-season food.
Just as we are living beings adaptable to our environment, foods, too, are living organisms which have adapted to their own immediate environments. Nature provides us with food that is precisely right (balancing/comforting) by virtue of the place and season in which it grows. So ideally, it is healthiest to eat food grown and cultivated near our area, and in the season they are harvested (meaning here and now). Seasonal eating is one of the keys to a balanced and wholesome diet. Not having been preserved or refrigerated for long periods, or having travelled long distance to get to market and our plate, locally grown, picked-ripe foods are the freshest, often the most economical, and usually less chemically treated, even non-organic, because they do not need to be protected for long distance shipping. A good rule of thumb, the shorter the life span of a food, the more important it is that comes from a short distance. Example, fruits and vegetables have a short life span, so they would fall into the “here and now” category of foods, and thus, ideally they should come from local seasonal sources, your neighborhood farmer’s market would be an excellent source.
So begin to broaden your adaptive behavior, your ‘knowing’, to include healthy seasonal food choices. Keep ‘Here and Now Food’ in mind the next time you step in the supermarket this winter. Look around to see what vegetables and fruits are more abundant (hint: apples, grapes, pears, tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, turnips, all squashes (acorn, butternut, chayote, pumpkins) mustard greens, etc.) and incorporate these into your diet. You may be surprised to discover you need fewer layers of clothing for the rest of the winter!
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