Mindful Eating in Tune with Nature
Eating foods when they are locally grown not only makes for the most tasteful meals, but the most nutritious – it’s just better for people all the way around to eat the freshest foods during the seasons nature intends.
Eating locally-grown foods helps build immunity and aids digestion and comes with many more benefits than food that is imported, canned, frozen, or packaged, says local Ayurveda educator and speaker Sandra Corder. Foods that are not fresh, place more strain on the body and make one sluggish. Eating foods grown locally can help prevent allergies and other problems as well since they boost the immune system rather than put a burden there.
“Food that is grown within 100 miles of one’s home and is purchased directly from local growers at farm stands, farmers’ markets, or from the grower’s farm is what is generally known as ‘locally grown’ food,” she says. “These foods are usually picked in season and at the peak of ripeness. This is important because it is the time the nutrients in them are highest. Many imported, non-local fruits and vegetables are picked before they are ripened, so they start with less nutritional value. Added to that, fruits and vegetables lose valuable nutrients each day due to continued respiration, heat loss, and moisture loss. So, local fruits and veggies that are picked and delivered to you quickly from the local farm start with and keep more nutrients.”
Corder reminds people that the vegetables and fruits that are ripe in spring are not the same vegetables and fruits that are ripe in the fall and the body knows and needs the difference. Eating local foods during nature’s seasons helps bring the body into balance. After a winter of eating hearty meals for instance, the body feels heavy, dull, and sluggish and needs a lighter diet full of spring greens with more bitter, astringent, or pungent tastes to bring it back into balance this time of year.
Likewise, during the hot, humid summer months when the body is accumulating heat, eating sweet, cooling foods that ripen during summer — like melons and summer squashes — bring a cooling and balancing effect.
“Your body uses the nutrients it breaks down from the foods we eat in many different ways,” Corder says. “Asparagus is a spring vegetable high in Vitamins C, A. and folic acid. Vitamin C helps maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood, and skin. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy vision, neurological function, skin, and more. Folic acid is vital for making red blood cells. By starting with lower quantities of the nutrients in imported food, you basically are not getting the bang for your buck you would by eating local. Personally, I am health, weight, and cost conscious. So, if I’m going to eat something, I want it to be the best I can get. Eating local versus conventional produce is a simple way to make sure I get the most benefits from my calories and my hard-earned cash. Plus, I benefit the local economy as an added bonus.”
Paying attention to what is eaten during the varied cycles of nature makes a big difference in how the body feels. For a good list of what is in season throughout the year in Texas go to www.texasfarmersmarket.org/in-season. Bon appetit!