A Resolution to Eat in Season
A new year, a new beginning. That is, after all, what we like to tell ourselves this time of year
At the strike of the new year, it’s easy to begin with a new slate. There is a certain grandeur that comes with making decisions at the beginning of January, our way of honoring the yearly transition and pushing ourselves to do more in the months to come.
I will eat better.
I will cut down on carbs.
I will exercise.
I will cut out processed food.
I will avoid temptation.
Food resolutions can often be very cut and dry, focused more on what we are going to cut out rather than what we are going to embrace, which means that at the start of the year we’re thinking more about what we aren’t going to eat than what we are going to eat.
But why put so much pressure on this one time of year? Regardless of the resolutions that many of us make as we turn the calendar and begin a new year, there’s one truth that we brush aside: we can make smarter, healthier choices no matter what the day of the year. And smarter, healthier choices are just as much about embracing food as they are about demonizing it.
Seasonal eating is one of the choices.
Thanks to the seasons, we have many times throughout the year to rejoice over transition. Many times to recommit to filling our plates with something enjoyable and healthy. Every single month there’s a new fruit or vegetable to consume, one that wasn’t there the last. What we eat changes throughout the year, a seasonal flow of flavors and textures.
A lot of people advocate for eating in season, and yet I find that so many of us are bad about embracing it. Why? Because in the winter months it can be a bit boring? Or because we blindly follow recipes, failing to think about what the ingredients involve? After all, unless you live in a very warm climate where you have a winter garden that grows with abundance, that winter soup should not contain zucchini. It’s called “summer squash” for a reason.
Whatever the reason, it’s time to choose differently. It’s time to change our habits. It’s time to embrace seasonality.
After all, eating in season isn’t anything new. But today, ask around and you’ll quickly find that many people are hard pressed to tell you what exactly is currently in season. It didn’t used to be this way. Not so long ago, what was in season was mere common knowledge. People didn’t need guides or roundups of seasonal produce. They just knew, because what was in season was what they had on hand.
But in today’s modern world where we can have anything we want, from anywhere we want, at any time of year it becomes harder and harder to know what’s in season, what should be growing. And so we veer from the natural seasons. We import what we could get from nearby. We treat the soil as our servant.
Eating seasonally isn’t just about committing to a more sustainable lifestyle – one that’s more in sync with the natural rhythm of things – it’s about celebrating all of the transitions that happen throughout the year, not just the big one that happens when December 31st rolls over to January 1st.
When you eat in season, every seasonal change is cause for celebration. The first asparagus, the first cherries, the first pumpkin. We are rewarded for waiting, and that reward tastes far better than anything we could have imagined.
Not only does eating in season keep us respecting that natural rhythm, it also encourages us to eat more local foods, maybe even try to grow our own. It challenges us to be more aware, more in tune with the world around us. It challenges us to learn more about the products we consider staples. Did you know, for example, that coffee is a seasonal product, one to be treated like fresh produce?
You could look at eating in season as boring, or you could look at it as a culinary challenge. The chance to be creative. The chance to do something different. We shouldn’t have tomatoes in our salads in January. Our February desserts shouldn’t be topped in strawberries. What could you use instead? If you let yourself be inspired by the seasons, the answer might just be more original than what you thought.
If there’s any resolution to make regarding food this year, it’s to embrace that transition. Throw yourself into the world of seasonality. You’ll find that every month is cause for celebration.
What’s in season right now? We’ve got a whole guide for that.
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