On this last official day of summer before the Autumnal Equinox, it occurrs to me just how much my body flows with the seasons and how strongly my cravings reflect that. Instead of fresh peaches, berries + delicate greens I've eaten all summer, I've got heartier kale, sweet squash + crunchy apples on my mind. Is this all because of the changing leaves outside my front door and the mention of Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Or is there a biological shift when we reach this cusp of the seasons?
Though "seasonal produce" or "seasonal eating" have become buzzwords, our ancestors were way ahead of the game! Back when hunting + gathering was actually necessary for survival, our predecessors had no choice but to eat with the seasons. For them, the luxury of going to the grocery store to pick up an avocado shipped in from Mexico wasn't an option - they'd actually have to travel for months to go south of the border and pick an avo from a tree themselves (and by then they may have been out of season, anyway)!
Because of this lack of convenience, the foods that were available grew naturally during whichever season was present. For instance, in fall the harvest would reflect items like beets, squashes, apples, pears, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks and chard, and those hunters + gatherers ate these foods to grow their families and keep their bodies strong. Today, we're no longer living as hunter-gatherers did, but hunter-gatherer genes are still present in our bodies. And in fact, science has discovered that our DNA actually changes with the movement of seasons, altering the body's biochemical make-up with each new quarterly period throughout the year - whether we feed ourselves accordingly or not.
So, would eating seasonal foods actually bring us closer to our true selves, our literal biological make-up? In my abbreviated opinion, heck yes! If you think about it, in this day and age we experience a major disconnect between nature and our present-day lives. Quality time outdoors or fresh, local + seasonal eats on our plates has diminished greatly with our modern conveniences, and it shows. But have you ever come back from a camping trip or a hike and felt like it was "bad for you"? Likely not. Instead, I'd bet you felt even the slightest bit rejuvenated and reenergized from the fresh air and movement.
The same powerful, healing connectedness to our natural environment can occur when we eat as seasonally as possible. Our bodies remember - and our genes flourish - when we feed them with this intention. And not only physically, but the spiritual connection to being nourished from the Earth's goodness is powerful, too! Typically a boost in nutrients tags along with fresh, seasonal produce, as well - and even bigger bonus points for local food, which is even MORE nutrient dense due to the shorter distance it travels to get to your plate (short time from farm to plate = higher nutrients; long time from farm to plate = lower nutrients).
So, as we move into fall, eat intentionally with the season by shopping at a farmer's market, or stop by the store prepared with knowledge of what's in season now. (This site is a great resource!) Next time you shop for your food just think, "WWAD?"
....What Would the Ancestors Do? ;)