Eating with the seasons is one of the best things you can do for your health and for the planet. Eating produce soon after harvest not only means that vegetables smell and taste better, but they are also higher in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
It’s completely possible to eat most produce year-round; however, that comes with consequences such as:
- Harvesting prior to crops being fully ripe:
- Less desirable flavor
- Fewer nutrients
- Reliance on force ripening (i.e., using ethylene gas)
- Loss of nutrients from long durations of time in storage, shipping, and distribution
- Monoculture (growing a large amount of one crop):
- Difficult for pollinators
- Often greater use of pesticides and fertilizers
- Spending focused on large corporations:
- Loss of family farms
Did you know? A typical American meal contains foods shipped from five different countries!
Knowledge of Life and Longevity
Seasonal eating is not a trend but, rather, once had been a way of life. In Ayurveda, also known as “the knowledge of life and longevity,” seasonal eating is part of living in a healthful and regenerative way that is sustainable and supports balance in the body.
Have you noticed that, with the shifting seasons, your cravings change?
Seasonality at The Chef’s Garden
In the winter, we harvest and store our root vegetables like our ancestors have done for hundreds of years and use greenhouses to continue growing our microgreens, lettuces, and more. Although we grow hundreds of different crops each year, the wintertime on the farm is different. Our crops grow more slowly due to the colder temperatures and reduced sunshine here in Ohio. The winter is generally when grounding root crops are enjoyed: roasted, in stews, soups, etc. Warm hearty meals are the name of the game in the winter along with warming beverages and spices!
When spring comes, you can feel the buzz of excitement on the farm. We’ve been planning all winter what we will plant, buying seeds, and getting ready for the day—when it’s finally time to plant! The beautiful colors and smells of spring remind us of starting fresh. In the spring, it is common to start craving lighter spring greens, onions, microgreens, and fresh herbs like chives. This is a great time to begin incorporating more bitter greens, like dandelion and chicory, to help stimulate healthy digestion.
In the summer, our farm is in full swing! If you stop to listen you can hear the hum of the farm: insects, birds, people, tractors—it’s a busy place full of life! There is so much diversity in what we’re able to grow here on the farm during this season. In the summer, tastes change towards juicy fruits and vegetables that are hydrating and cooling such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and melons. Grilling is one of my favorite ways to enjoy vegetables during the summer months—lightly cooked outdoors (keeping your house comfortable inside and the heat outside)— along with fresh greens and the vegetable du jour. Simple dressings with fresh herbs take simple summer vegetables to the next level.
In the fall, we are still enjoying the bounty of the season as we begin to see the temperatures get cooler at night, the air dryer, and the leaves beginning to change. This is a time of year when we begin to feel the slowing down of winter coming around the corner. In the fall I love to enjoy squash in all forms (roasted, in soup, mashed, spiralized, etc.) as well as root vegetables, cooked greens, and stewed fruits. This is the time of year when we begin to crave fall spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
We Are Surrounded By “Superfoods”
The term “superfood” was first used around 1915 but did not become popular until the early 2000s when we began looking towards foods like acai berries, goji berries, and many more as the magic bullets to improve health. The problem is, we’re overlooking the foods that surround us and likely have more nutrients when harvested in season at the peak of their ripeness and consumed shortly afterward as opposed to those foods shipped long distances. In my opinion, fruits and vegetables are by definition all superfoods.
Superfoods are nutrient-rich foods considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.
With the days getting longer and the smell of spring in the air, here is our superfood list.
Top 5 Superfood Vegetables to Eat Now
- Watercress: One of the most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet, it adds a mild spicy flavor. Watercress is easy to incorporate into any place you would use greens like salads, wraps, soups, etc.
- Chives: Early to come up in the spring, the spring onion flavor works well to add a touch of spring to your meals—and they are rich in Vitamin C!
- Asparagus: We love asparagus season at Farmer Jones Farm. Asparagus is versatile because it comes in many colors and can be eaten raw or cooked and is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables there is. Asparagus is high in folic acid and is a good source of fiber. Have you tried our white asparagus? It’s AMAZING!
- Microgreens: Spring is a beautiful time of renewal when seeds are just beginning to sprout. Microgreens are just that: tiny plants, packed with flavor and nutrients, that have just begun growing. Use them to easily add flavor and freshness to your meals.
- Pea shoots: Delicate and tender, these shoots have a fresh spring pea flavor. They work well in salads and wraps, and are just eaten out of the container. Pea shoots are a good source of folate, carotene, and antioxidants.
The changing seasons provide us with the opportunity to eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense fresh vegetables throughout the year that support our health and nourish our bodies. By eating seasonally, you are able to connect more deeply with nature and tune into the cycles of the natural world. As we move into spring, we would love to connect with you! We love seeing how you are using our vegetables. Join our Farmer Jones family by following us at @farmerjonesfarm and tag us to share your photos.