The Healing Properties of Plants (Eating as the Seasons Change) by Bill Reneau
In last month’s issue, I shared some of the plants you could use to help with sleep as you find your own way to a healthier you. This month, we will share some ideas on how to go with the flow; well, the flow of seasonal change that is.
If you think about it for a moment, here in New Jersey, fruits, veggies and local produce are not available year-round, but rather by the season. When in season, we look forward for fresh strawberries, blue berries, apples and peaches just to name a few, with some of us even supporting local farms and participating in CSAs. That’s awesome stuff.
It’s highly important to eat foods that are in season. Seasonal foods are fresher, tastier and more nutritious than food consumed out of season. Eating seasonally is not only better for your health, it also promotes balance with both the Earth’s resources and its life forms. The changing of seasons is a source of natural diversity that we need to remind us that stagnation leads to disease. Even though we all would like to eat strawberries year-round, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest, or better yet, grown in your own garden. Seasonal fruits and vegetables produced on local farms are fresher, as they do not require long distances for transport. Also, unlike out of season produce which is harvested early in order to be shipped and distributed to your local retail store, crops picked at their peak of ripeness are also better tasting and full of flavor. What’s more, studies have shown that fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients when allowed to ripen naturally on their parent plant.
Because of modern agricultural technology, most foods are available year-round, however, we forget that food availability changes with the seasons. So even though technology makes it possible for us to eat tomatoes in the dead of winter, that doesn’t mean we should do it, rather we should eat with the cycles of nature and only consume food that were grown at the time you are eating it. Eating with the seasons is all about planning and awareness. In the summer, we eat things that will cool us; in the fall and winter, things that warm us—this is the natural way of things.
So here are just some fruits and vegetables to consider this October: apples, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, celery root, chard, chicories, chives, collard greens, cranberries, eggplant, fennel, garlic, kale, leeks, lima beans, mushrooms, okra, oregano, pumpkins, raspberries, tomatoes, winter squash. Some teas could be a spiced chai, a pumpkin spice or perhaps some hot apple cider.
For more ideas on eating as the seasons change, visit EarthShack.org/herbiary. Next month, we will share which plants you should add to your home for the winter and why.
EarthShack, in the Amish Market and at Crescent Moon Coffee & Tea, both in Mullica Hill, NJ; at the Woodstock Trading Company in Cherry Hill, NJ; and Jersey Fitness, in Pennsville, NJ. For more information, call 856-210-7662, email [email protected] or visit EarthShack.org.