Have you ever noticed that strawberries purchased in the winter are not as ripe or sweet as strawberries eaten in spring? When reading this question your first response might be that they are grown year-round, or maybe this is something you have never considered. Strawberries are seasonal, tasting the best when grown in the later spring months to early summer, and when strawberries are purchased during other seasons these berries are shipped thousands of miles to reach your local grocery store.
A majority of us today have lost sight of what foods are grown in specific seasons due to the availability of our favorite produce being readily available at most grocery stores. This has become a relatively new concept, as indigenous peoples have always had growing and harvesting seasons which yielded different crops. The official blog of the Oneidas Native American nation is an example of this, stating that: ‘“Eating the seasons” is part of who the Oneidas were, who we are, and who we should continue to be: a people in harmony with nature, our bodies and our health.”’ Eating seasonally is also related to the relationship between our bodies and the natural world. Many cultures and idigenous peoples have cultivated a relationship with the earth, which doesn’t deplete resources as rapidly and doesn’t emit tons of carbon emissions. These values and customs are role models of how society needs to reframe our agricultural industry to eat with the seasons.
“It has been estimated that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Transporting food requires petroleum-based fuels, and many fertilizers are also fossil fuel-based”(CO2 living).
This does however, become harmful to the environment as food travels long distances through manufacturing, packaging, transportation and eventually reaches the consumer. Seasonal eating is directly related to carbon emissions and the amount of greenhouse emissions that are released daily into the atmosphere. Many processes behind the scenes of growing produce utilize nitrogen based fertilizers or machinery that emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This process emits excessive amounts of carbon dioxide when foods are transported to other geographic locations and regions, traveling hundreds and thousands of miles. Produce grown in prime environments regarding the influence of specific seasonal fruits and vegetables can greatly benefit the amount of nutrients and flavor that is received when fresh and seasonal produce is enjoyed. Vitamins and minerals within these nutrient rich environments translate into the produce being grown, but this is especially present within the proper growing season. Shopping at local farmers markets, such as our local farmers markets every Thursday and Sunday, are great opportunities to step into eating seasonally while also supporting smaller community based farms and businesses.
This may sound overwhelming, but it is doable, and it all starts with question:
Am I eating with the seasons?
A helpful guide to the produce that grows in each season! https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide
To reference a great article on eating with the seasons by the Oneida Indian Nation click here