Local, Seasonal and Traditional Foods, the Better Choice when Possible
Food for Thought
Locally produced food in season prepared with traditional methods for summer and winter food consumption was the solution to being able to feed my crew tasty real food they would eat to keep them happy and well.
I’ve learned on my extensive travels to appreciate the local foods of where I was at that moment. Pineapple, when purchased from the grocery store shelves in Canada has no taste comparison to pineapple from the market in Costa Rica. Rice produced on the rivers in Peru has an earthy wholesome flavor that I’ve not found in any other rice I’ve purchased or used. The pumpkin garlic soup served at a hostel while trekking the Annapurna Mountains of Nepal; is a taste sensation that still sits in my mind over 30 years later. It was such a simple dish made with what was available locally at that moment. Consuming sea vegetables was so much more palatable in Japan as compared to the packaged products available to those who live a great distance from an ocean. A treat of oysters on the half shell in Melbourne, Australia beside the waters they came from tops any other occasion I’ve tasted oysters; the same with a lunch of clams on one of the islands south of Hong Kong. Fresh salmon on the British Colombia coast has a world of taste difference from salmon that arrives at inland markets. Reneta, a type of Sea Bass that we purchased from the fisherman on the wharf in Concon, Chile available only during Chilean winter taught me to truly appreciate seasonal availability. When it wasn’t available any longer a fisherman said, “You can have it again next year.” The list could go on.
What I want to emphasize here is that when we consume fresh foods produced locally in season, we are taking advantage of the fullest flavor possible of that food. When healthy food tastes good it is consumed. Local food, because it hasn’t travelled so far, is less “weary” and full of life giving nutrition with the bonus being far more economical to purchase. Marketing strategies have tried to convince us that exotic, super foods from far away places, are something the population needs to have. Goji berries grow in Asia and marketed as a super food in North America, but when those berries are purchased in North America, the food dollar is short lived. So what about cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries and currants? All grow in North America and all are on the list of super foods too. What I’m trying to get at is, we can do ourselves healthy service if we get in touch with local harvests and take advantage of what is available, when available in your area. This is not only more economical on a personal level, it is more environmentally sustainable, supports local economy and once you start consuming traditional, real food according to season and where you are at the moment, you may find your general well-being becoming more satisfied, content, peaceful and able to cope more readily with your surrounding environment.
Excerpt from recipe book, “Feed Your Family Real Food Local, Seasonal, Traditional”
Throughout my years of preparing food for family, friends, the public and myself, the habit of choosing local, seasonal and traditional foods developed mostly because I discovered my food dollar goes much farther gathering the best quality food from local producers and farmers markets than purchasing from major grocery store chains.
There are many reasons for choosing to use local products over food that has travelled hundreds or thousands of miles to get to a consumers destination. These are mine.
Local food from local producers is fresher, fresh food has more food value, my food dollar budget goes much farther for the quality of food, it supports the economy of the communities I live, small local farmers are more likely to use less pesticide and herbicides than the multinational big food industry and locally grown food that has flourished in local climate conditions supports the body with sustenance to deal with local climate conditions and pollens throughout the year.
When the majority of our diet comes from local sources it is only natural that we would consume seasonal produce as well. Seasonal produce is fresh, has peak food value and again more suited to the climate of where one lives. Essentially there are warming foods and there are cooling foods. Warming foods help the body keep warm to deal with the cold of winter and cooling food helps the body keep cool during summer. Would you like to eat a bowl of hot beef barley soup on a hot July day or go out on a cross-country ski in January after eating a simple salad? Just the suggestion feels incongruent. When we prepare local food available according to season and exterior climate conditions, our bodies and minds are much better prepared to function optimally when fueled accordingly. Tender green leafy vegetables during spring, fruits, berries and denser vegetables for summer; roots, squashes and potatoes are in abundance during the cooler autumn months and manage to maintain food integrity well into winter until spring rolls around once again. As the earth rests and regenerates during winter, finding nourishing local food can be a challenge. This is where my pioneering ancestors have had great influence on my food prep education. I continue to carry, use and expand many of those traditional practices that sustained several generations before me.
It is hard to argue with food practices that have nourished our ancestors, kept them healthy and sustained them throughout the year for hundreds, even thousands of years before our current generations of manipulated food. Traditional foods have stood the test of time and we are beginning to wake up to the fact that processed foods containing non-traditional ingredients could just be an underlying problem to so many health issues we are facing today. I’ve grew up and raised my family using traditional food practices most of the time and we have had very few health issues. Myself, in my sixties use no medications, even through menopause and I attribute my good fortune to, a good healthy diet, moderate physical exercise and always working on a positive mental attitude. As Hippocrates quoted, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I took it to heart!