Living in a temperate (4 seasons) climate our food choices reflect the changing seasons: intuitively we choose soups and hearty stews in winter to keep us warm and energised, and then lighter dishes, salads and juices in the summer to keep us cool.
Through our food choices and our cooking styles, we can enjoy and celebrate each season. When we see the first buds and shoots of spring and feel the excitement of new energy arriving, we can include more sprouts and greens in our daily eating, and start to cook lighter dishes. We can choose foods to help shed any extra weight that we might have added over winter, so that we feel lighter for the more active times ahead. When summer arrives (with all the tasty summer veg and luscious summer fruits) we will be spending more time outside, and so picnics and barbeques are an enjoyable and social way to enjoy and share food. Quick dishes with lots of flavour like stir-frys, tempura and grain and bean salads work well at this time.
When the leaves start to fall and autumn and then winter arrive, we want to cosy up in our homes more. The colourful harvests of pumpkin, squash and root veg lend themselves to tasty soups and bakes, and apple and pear crumbles keep us warm and satisfied. Amongst everyday staples such as whole grains, some – like whole oats and buckwheat – are more suited to the winter months and other lighter grains, such as sweet corn and couscous, more to summer. Taking cooking classes with an accredited cooking teacher is a good way to learn more about cooking for the different seasons.
In the past, people ate what was in season and what was local to them because that was what was available, but now this has all changed. Modern transport and airfreight make it possible to source foods from hundreds of miles away and from other climatic zones. The up side of this is that we have more choice and variety in what we can buy, but the down side is both the huge cost to the environment that this causes, and the poorer nutritional and energetic quality that these foods have.
Local, organically produced foods have vitality, freshness and flavour – good for us and good for the environment!