Moving from South Africa to Europe I became much more aware of the seasons and the distinct differences between them. It is as if the same landscape assumes four different persona's or is dressed for four different occasions: Spring, Summer. Autumn and Winter.
I think that living in alignment with the seasonal conditions and eating what the earth naturally produces at any given period (without too much artificial intervention) is beneficial to both our personal health and wellness and our planet.
Each season has a unique tempo and a different rhythm. After almost five years I have learnt to recognise them and adjust myself, my diet, my activities and my lifestyle to flow with each season. Some adjustments are easy and can occur unconsciously, others need a more mindful approach.
I became acquainted with some local fruits and vegetables that were foreign to me. I had to challenge myself to try new foods and learn what to do with them and how to cook them. Most people who know me probably think that I have a healthy appetite. It is true that I have a healthy appetite now, but that was not always the case. And even these days, I succumb to stress, cravings and comfort eating episodically. But my commitment to healthy eating is not negotiable at least 80% of the time. Such is the 80/20 rule sufficient to keep my personal health balance.
My restless spirit craves variety and enjoys experimenting with healthy ingredients, therefore, my risk averseness with these strange new fruits and vegetables has been temporary. It really helps to be surrounded by internationals with foodie knowledge and experience. They have shared their favourite dishes and other recipes from their culture. It has been such a stimulating experience of full spectrum culture and cuisine.
I believe strongly that the health of our planet mirrors the health of our bodies. Eating seasonal means eating produce at its natural harvest time. These times can vary from location to location but essentially seasonal produce is what you can grow in your own garden or greenhouse without artificial light or heating.
What produce is in season in Europe this winter?
Fruit: Citrus & Kiwi fruit
Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels' sprouts
Root vegetables: carrots, parsnips, beetroot, Jerusalem artichoke, turnips
Other: Endive, celery, leeks, mushrooms
What produce is in season in the southern hemisphere this summer (location dependent)?
Fruit: berries, grapes, figs, peaches, apricots, melon, plums, tomatoes
Cruciferous vegetables: kohlrabi, broccoli, cabbage, radish, chard
Root vegetables: potato, carrots, turnips
Other: Garlic, spring onion, mushrooms, lettuce, cucumber, pepper, aubergine, peas, fennel, green beans, zucchini, artichoke,
What are the benefits of eating seasonally?
Taste In-season produce tastes better than produce that has been picked before it is ripe, stored and transported across the globe.
Nutrient content The nutrients in seasonal fruit mirror what our bodies require for optimal health given the seasonal conditions. For example, in autumn wild mushrooms provide vitamin D to help with the fading light and in winter, citrus fruits provide vitamin C to support against winter colds.
Cost Seasonal produce is cheaper because of a high supply vs lower demand ratio.
Wherever you are in the world and whatever your season, I hope you are inspired to enjoy a greater alignment with your environment and food.
Until next time, stay well with your seasons!
Nicole Dawson Cullinan
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A version of this blog was also published by the Eindhoven News an online newspaper for English speaking Internationals in The Netherlands.