ColumnThe simple pleasures of eating seasonally can enhance your enjoyment of healthy food.
I get excited about fresh figs.
No, really excited. Some may even say overly so. Watch me go to a market or a store that has local figs, and I may look a bit like a madwoman, frantically stuffing dozens of figs into a bag. I have been known to buy all the figs in the store (ok, they were low on them to begin with). Normally there’s no recipe in mind, just the feeling that fig season is fleeting, and I better take advantage of it while I can.
I always eat one fig straight from the fruit bowl. I don’t have to do anything to it, it’s perfect enough to eat by itself. It’s sweet and succulent. Mind blown.
I’ve always liked fruits, but recently I made a commitment to eating seasonally, as well as local, and the result is that everything tastes better. When pears came to the market, it was like eating a pear for the first time. Same with the figs. The tastes are so particular and so special, you’re amazed that you’re just eating fruit.
Why? When eating seasonally, we only eat the foods that are available, and in doing so there are many things that we go without. Eating seasonally inevitably induces a craving, and one that can’t be solved with a quick fix. You can’t go buy a fresh fig just because you want one.
The craving grows and grows, and when the taste buds are finally satiated, they appreciate that taste and flavor so much more. It’s an experience that can be equated to if you have ever given up eating something for a certain amount of time. You stopped chocolate for a month just to see if you could do it, and the first bite upon re-entry was like no chocolate you had ever eaten before.
In a time of mega-supermarkets, we’re used to most products being available year round. Our brains are fooled into thinking that it’s completely normal to eat tomatoes all year round (for most regions, it’s not). Unless you live in New Zealand, your apples shouldn’t be from there. It’s not hard to see why: the carbon footprint of shipping thousands of pounds of apples around the world every day is obvious.
In fact, we are so brainwashed by the illusion of choice, that we don’t question buying a tomato in January. But you know what happens when you start eating seasonally? Buying those tomatoes out of season isn’t even an option, so you never even try to fulfill the craving with some GMO-induced, bland, reddish blob. You wait until tomato season rolls around, and you get ones that were freshly picked, not carted up from god-knows-where in a truck. Instead, you get satisfaction that comes from fulfilling a craving that has lasted for months. And you eat food when its meant to be eaten.
Certainly, eating seasonally 100 percent of the time is difficult. Even I can’t commit to that, and I’m the first to admit it. I love coffee, and eating root vegetables all winter long could make for a pretty boring few months (although it would inspire creativity in the kitchen, hello beet and carrot tacos). That being said, we could all make a better effort to create a diet that’s more in tune with where we live and what season we’re in. The payoff is a delicious one.
Related on EcoSalon:
Eating Local and Organic By the Seasons
This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’ weekly column at EcoSalon: Foodie Underground, an exploration of what’s new and different in the underground movement, and how we make the topic of good food more accessible to everyone. More musings on the topic can be found at www.foodieunderground.com.
Image: Anna Brones