Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Advantages of Eating In-Season Fruit

The recommended serving of fruit per day is 2-4.

I'm not a big adherent of that during the winter, even as we begin to see signs of spring.

Because of the worldwide distribution of food, seasonal foods are available year-round now which means it's easy to forget about seasons when we do our weekly grocery shop.

Seasonal fruits like fresh, soft summer berries are available all year at my local Whole Foods -- they're more expensive in the winter, and they're not as flavorful, but they're there.

Even peaches, and end-of-summer fruit, are reappearing as we head into spring; they're displayed not far from the tropical pineapples from Hawaii and the grapes from South America.

The transportation of fruits grown abroad means we have access to quite a colorful selection of 2-4 servings of fruits in the winter.

As a result, we've grown accustomed to choice so that the notion that it's not as healthful to eat cooling summer foods when there's snow on the ground may seem contrary.

Yet there is wisdom in the seasons, therefore it follows that there's good judgment in choosing and consuming foods that nature produces at specific times of the year.

Seasons are natures way of providing our diets with diversity while also providing an effective way to balance our systems so that we can cope with the heat of summer (by eating summer fruits and vegetables) and the cold of winter (by eating warming root vegetables, and fruits like apples and pears harvested late in the fall).

It's a 21st-century ailment buying and consuming out-0f-season foods just because we can, because they're available, after all not that long ago transporting fresh produce internationally was not possible like it is today.

And I meant "ailment," since eating out of season is not the healthiest of diets and can lead to a number of physical ailments.

Nor is it budget-wise (summer fruits are sometimes double the price in the winter) and it's certainly not sustainable, particularly when fruit (any food, for that matter) is transported internationally.

So what are we to do?

Again, because we've grown accustomed to choice, such as tropical fruits in winter, frozen summer berries all-year round, the idea of passing up these options in favor of the seasonal fruit of the region may seem to some too limiting, even unnecessarily ascetic.

Yet foregoing choice at the grocery store is an exercise worth practicing for health and budget, and if you're concerned about being a responsible consumer, for sustainability.

You may find that the seasonal fruit of your region is limited, or it may not be. In Colorado, I tend to stick to apples in winter, and some pears, with the occasional lemon or lime, which I use in my cooking.

Unfortunately, though apples and pears grow in Colorado, the varieties available at my local store are trucked in from out-of-state, as are the lemons and limes.

An apple or a pear a day is less than the prescribed 2-4 servings, however, if I wasn't eating all those colorful veggies I've been referring to in previous posts, I might have nutritionists concerned.

Come summer, I'll make up for a winter of apples and pears eaten raw or cooked into a myriad of dishes, and indulge in the cooling fruits of the season and the region -- chances are, I'll even go over 2-4 servings a day!


Gahiji said...

What exactly are the physical ailments caused by out of season fruit consumption?

Louise Ross said...

The health issue that can arise eating, say, summer fruits in winter, is that summer fruits are cooling to one's system and can cause excess cold and damp (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM).

Google "TCM cold damp condition" and read what it has to say.


Anonymous said...

Load of rubbish, I don't believe in that at all! I suffer colitis which makes me feel the cold very very easily and if I can't eat tropical fruits I would NEVER touch ANY fruit in winter as I hate apples, oranges and all those boring fruits, I only like tropical. I eat a lot of tropical fruits in the winter and have become more healthy with less foods and actually feel less cold!