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How do you "Eat seasonally" in a cold climate?

 
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I've often heard the advice to "Eat Seasonally".  I figure that at a minimum this means you shouldn't be trying to eat asparagus in the autumn.  And it kind of means we should eat salads in early summer, gorge on tomatoes in September, eat apples in October.  Easy peasy.  But what do I do in February?  

Some traditional winter foods I think of are chili, lasagna, chicken soup and roasted veggies.  Those rely on things that are harvested in the fall and preserved.  So does preserved food count towards eating seasonally?

Or is it eating with the seasons in the way my ancestors (northern European) would have?  Meat and stored root crops?
 
gardener
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i think stored foods should definitely count, whether stored fresh vegetables from autumn harvest, canned, or pickled/fermented things.
 
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Winter food would be salted meat/fish, dried peas, grains, root crops, cabbage family plants and cheese/butter. there were also dried fruits around and fermented fruit in the form of cider or wine.


I personally do not have any issue with eating my canned tomatoes all winter/spring but buying ones that have been flown in from spain? a week ago we ate the last winter squash, that's 8 months after it was harvested, certainly not in "season" but since it kept that long I kind of think it was. However how about apples, we can store apples all year in carefully controlled conditions, do those count as in season?
 
pollinator
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I yes I think anything stored over winter counts as "eating Seasonally" - root cellar veg, tree nuts, preserved food.

Hunted meat would also count, if you're into it.
 
pollinator
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Myself I don't believe in eating seasonally....

The invention of greenhouses has change that for most of the world.         I grow by temperature.     If it grows at my location, I eat it or feed it to animals that I eat.....

 
Mike Haasl
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Maybe I'm confused about the philosophy of the concept.  

If the idea is to eat stuff that is abundant at the right time of year because our bodies have evolved to need them at that time, then I can imagine a health benefit from it.

If the idea is to avoid needing greenhouses to grow basil in the winter then I'm imagining an environmental benefit from it.

If there's another reason for it, that could generate a different benefit.

I guess I'm hoping that it's to align our food with the seasonal foods of our ancestors.  Coincidentally that would be a low energy situation since they didn't have hot houses.

Sorry if I'm rambling but as I look at a jar of canned salsa I'm wondering if it matters...
 
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Cold climates generally have led to cultures of meat eating, smoking, fermentation and other preservation methods. Animals with thick fur and fat layers are how ecosystems store energy through winter, and humans in cold climates have cultures that utilize this.

I think a great example of the benefits to the consumer of a seasonal diet lies in how tomatoes grown in the sun in their natural season produce 350 or so phytochemicals and flavor/aroma compounds, whereas those grown in greenhouses without full spectrum sunlight (due to glass or plastic filtering out much of the spectrum) produce only 50 or so. This leads to less flavor in greenhouse grown tomatoes, as well as inferior nutrition, and what is there is not as appropriate for what the human consumer needs for that time of year. Many of the 300+ chemicals produced only by tomatoes in full sun are for protecting the plant from the full spectrum of light and helping it make use of it. Many of these sun-grown tomato produced chemicals are also used by our bodies to help us tolerate and benefit from that same full spectrum of sunlight when we are out in the sun at the time of year we are meant to eat tomatoes. This is also similar to how medicinal plants produce more complex and complete medicinal compounds in full sun.

For these reasons along with thalate contamination and plastic pollution, I only grow seedlings/starts or overwintering tropical perennials under plastic or any kind covering. I also avoid soft plastics that leach known carcinogens and hormone disruptors, and only last a few years before becoming more microplastic trash. Full sun is the only way to fully actualize a plant's potential nutrition in my fairly well researched opinion. I could provide the citations, but it would be just as easy for anyone to do a basic search of the abundant literature and decide for themselves.
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:I've often heard the advice to "Eat Seasonally".  I figure that at a minimum this means you shouldn't be trying to eat asparagus in the autumn.  And it kind of means we should eat salads in early summer, gorge on tomatoes in September, eat apples in October.  Easy peasy.  But what do I do in February?  

Some traditional winter foods I think of are chili, lasagna, chicken soup and roasted veggies.  Those rely on things that are harvested in the fall and preserved.  So does preserved food count towards eating seasonally?

Or is it eating with the seasons in the way my ancestors (northern European) would have?  Meat and stored root crops?



Think outside the farm. Take a walk in the woods, there's more to eat out there than you think and it's a lot less work than cultivating something. It may also be closer to what your ancestors actually ate at times. The needles of most conifers can be brewed into a tea which is high in Vitamin C. Many lichens and mosses are edible. Old man's beard is high in calories, protein, and fat, it's edible after cooking and leaching, and it grows almost everywhere (it grows very slowly so be conscientious of where and how much you harvest. Only harvest in areas with clean air, it absorbs air pollution). Your Northern European ancestors may have eaten pine bark when all else failed and they got hungry:

https://nordicfoodlab.wordpress.com/2015/11/24/2015-11-24-tree-bark/
 
pollinator
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I think it's more "what would people 200 years ago most likely have had access to?" Rather than "what's actively growing in my area right now?"

So yes, stored food counts. Food changes when it's stored, whether by canning, fermenting, dehydrating, or just sitting in a root cellar. Those changes factor in to what people adapted to. For those of us whose ancestors were all from cold climates, there may be adaptations that mean we do better on a high-carb diet in late fall and winter, followed by a low-carb diet in spring and early summer, with late-summer to early-fall being somewhere in-between.

If your ancestors were all from more tropical climates, you might need something different.

If you have ancestors from several different climates, it's anybody's guess which adaptations you've inherited. It's even possible some of those adaptations may be contradictory, which leads to some interesting challenges even without trying to eat seasonally!


 
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I thought the primary push for eating seasonally is that those foods can be harvested fresh locally, and because they don't travel 1000 miles they can be harvested when ripe, rather than harvesting unripe food and expecting it to finish ripening in the boat/truck. So more nutrition is gained by ripening. Plus less shipping hopefully means fewer resources spent on the shipping. So less overall environmental impact for eating in season.

If a person is growing their own food, then it's all in season whenever you harvest it, and you either eat it fresh or preserve it in a way that should maintain the nutrition, and probably little to no shipping costs between your garden and root cellar/pantry. If you buy at a farmers market you can buy in bulk to preserve it, and might get a better price that way.
 
pollinator
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Mark Brunnr wrote:I thought the primary push for eating seasonally is that those foods can be harvested fresh locally ...


Yes, that is my understanding of the original idea as well -- "eat what is in season locally." The farther north you go, the more challenging that is, because the growing season is so short.
 
Mart Hale
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Mark Brunnr wrote:I thought the primary push for eating seasonally is that those foods can be harvested fresh locally, and because they don't travel 1000 miles they can be harvested when ripe, rather than harvesting unripe food and expecting it to finish ripening in the boat/truck. So more nutrition is gained by ripening. Plus less shipping hopefully means fewer resources spent on the shipping. So less overall environmental impact for eating in season.

If a person is growing their own food, then it's all in season whenever you harvest it, and you either eat it fresh or preserve it in a way that should maintain the nutrition, and probably little to no shipping costs between your garden and root cellar/pantry. If you buy at a farmers market you can buy in bulk to preserve it, and might get a better price that way.



To me this makes sense for some crops like peppers tomatoes that loose nutrition from the moment they are picked from the vine.      

Yet for other products like grains,   wheat, oats,  barley    if stored properly,   they have a shelf life of like 20 years.      In my opinion,   when you are living in the hills of Kentucky    you are better off not growing wheat but having it shipped in. from the flat fields of Iowa.

For the small loss of nutrition in grain I like to boost it by adding moringa powder to super charge it.
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:Maybe I'm confused about the philosophy of the concept.  

If the idea is to eat stuff that is abundant at the right time of year because our bodies have evolved to need them at that time, then I can imagine a health benefit from it.

If the idea is to avoid needing greenhouses to grow basil in the winter then I'm imagining an environmental benefit from it.

If there's another reason for it, that could generate a different benefit.

I guess I'm hoping that it's to align our food with the seasonal foods of our ancestors.  Coincidentally that would be a low energy situation since they didn't have hot houses.

Sorry if I'm rambling but as I look at a jar of canned salsa I'm wondering if it matters...



I googled “history of eating local” and each website I went to had a slightly different answer, but none of them claimed the origin had to do with eating like our ancestors. It seems it had more to with politics, minimizing food waste, environmental issues, etc. It makes sense to me that it would be about these issues rather than eating like our ancestors, because in my opinion “eating seasonally” in a cold climate means eating animals, moss, and bark.

Many in the carnivore diet community have made the case that large, fatty ruminants used to be found in larger numbers(think wooly mammoth, for example). These animals made eating seasonally possible in cold climates during winter for hunter/gatherers throughout human history. They claim that the decline in these animals is what pushed people to switch to agriculture/carbohydrates. These views have been written about in Shawn Baker and Paul Saladino’s books on the carnivore diet.
 
pollinator
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Mike Haasl wrote:

If the idea is to eat stuff that is abundant at the right time of year because our bodies have evolved to need them at that time, then I can imagine a health benefit from it.



Mike, I look at it a little differently.  Rather than thinking we have evolved to eat certain things at certain times because we need them, I think we evolved to be able to survive by eating the only things available at certain times of the year.  In our climate, that means being able to eat meat and fat exclusively during the cold months, as people did for millions of years when there was no type of food storage yet developed.  I can't think of any reason that preserving food from summer to eat in winter would be deleterious, and I can definitely see advantages, even if they are as simple as staving off the boredom of eating the same thing all winter.  Certainly storing food you grew yourself is healthier for both you and the environment than is eating food shipped from somewhere else.  My personal opinion is, enjoy that salsa :)
 
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Here in Ohio where it's below freezing from october to march eating seasonally means...

Preserved foods. Anything dried or in cans. We can a lot. Dried apples are great. A dehydrator is a dream. Soup broth can be canned, etc. Cheeses, dried fruits, etc. will carry you a long way.
Cold-hardy crops. Brassicas, especially kale, do well here in in the winter. Peas can handle some too if they don't get broken by the snow. Red russian kale is where it's at.
Stored veggies with a long shelf life or that will keep in the ground under mulch - potatoes, carrots, winter squash, rutabaga, etc.
Things that can be grown from roots indoors on a south-facing window sill where it's already warm and well lit (for me, this is my kitchen) - green onions, sometimes a bit of lettuce or other greens, a few herbs.
Animal products. We keep pullets each year to give us winter eggs. Goats and cows will milk on stored hay and grain in the winter. Meat is an easy keeper since everything is always cold and frozen, or you can butcher as-needed. It's also a great time to eat things that are smoked and put away.
Hunted/fished products are great this time of year too.

And lastly, SUN. When it's there you gotta get out in it. remember, the vitamin D in milk is added after the fact - the way you get it naturally is sun. If it's sunny TRY to get out in it, even if it's cold. It won't be around long in the winter months.

Also, not exactly seasonal, but winter is when citrus fruits are "in season" where I live - they're always ripe and delicious shipped from the southern US in the winter. It's a good time to buy citrus, even if it's not exactly seasonal.
 
C Mouse
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Mike Haasl wrote:

If the idea is to eat stuff that is abundant at the right time of year because our bodies have evolved to need them at that time, then I can imagine a health benefit from it.



Mike, I look at it a little differently.  Rather than thinking we have evolved to eat certain things at certain times because we need them, I think we evolved to be able to survive by eating the only things available at certain times of the year.  In our climate, that means being able to eat meat and fat exclusively during the cold months, as people did for millions of years when there was no type of food storage yet developed.



Well, food storage has been around for longer than most agriculture and even dairy consumption. Some forms have been around for about 10,000 years. Given that lactose tolerance developed in about 2500 years, it's fair to say that humans have probably had some dietary adaptations to at least SOME food preservation. But I think eating seasonally is good still.

https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/how-did-ancient-people-keep-their-food-from-rotting
 
Trace Oswald
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C Mouse wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

Mike Haasl wrote:

If the idea is to eat stuff that is abundant at the right time of year because our bodies have evolved to need them at that time, then I can imagine a health benefit from it.



Mike, I look at it a little differently.  Rather than thinking we have evolved to eat certain things at certain times because we need them, I think we evolved to be able to survive by eating the only things available at certain times of the year.  In our climate, that means being able to eat meat and fat exclusively during the cold months, as people did for millions of years when there was no type of food storage yet developed.



Well, food storage has been around for longer than most agriculture and even dairy consumption. Some forms have been around for about 10,000 years. Given that lactose tolerance developed in about 2500 years, it's fair to say that humans have probably had some dietary adaptations to at least SOME food preservation. But I think eating seasonally is good still.

https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/how-did-ancient-people-keep-their-food-from-rotting



I didn't mean to imply that we aren't adapted to eating stored foods.  I don't even think we would have to adapt to it, since the food isn't really being changed by many forms of storage.  I simply meant that humans and our ancestors have been around far, far longer than any type of storage of foods has existed.  Modern humans have been here approximately 200,000 years, and our ancestors for millions of years before that.  10,000 years is a drop in the hat compared to our time on earth.  
 
Ben Zumeta
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I might clarify that I of course eat food grown in other places and out of season, and have used hoophouses with short lived plastics. I just figure now that I have the luxury of a great growing climate for 8 months a year and good amount of land, I can focus on growing things as ideally as I can by my standards, which includes full spectrum sunlight and roots in the ground as much as possible. If I were to judge, well then I am a total ass.
 
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Eating seasonally to me is the availability of fruit and vegetables.  We use expressions such as sun ripened, vine ripened to denote healthiness.  In our area we grow both apples and oranges.  Apples start to ripen in February - end of summer and continue through to May with the last ripening being those that can be used in pies, preserved and cooking.  Citrus is persistent, that is it tends to hang on the tree for a while, developing more sweetness.  Bitter citrus such as calamondins and kumquats can be preserved whole and stored and ripen later in the season also, persisting into early winter.  Lemons and Oranges are long term over summer, autumn and into early winter.  Full of vitamin C which allegedly wards off viruses.  So, for my money, it is about eating what is growing and ready to pick first then using what you have preserved.  Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and Kim Chee lasts for months.  These are prebiotics to maintain gut health.  There is published data showing the link between gut health and brain health.  In winter, there is a physical depression brought about by the lack of high quality sun.  Fermented foods promote gut health and improve mental health.  For my money, seasonal eating is what I need to eat to maintain good health.  Prepare in autumn for winter and early spring when the frosts are still about.   Eat heaps of stone fruit and salad vegetables in November to February.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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I suspect "eat locally, eat what is in season" started as a pushback against the crazy supply chains we see in supermarkets. In order to keep some produce items (esp. fruit) in stock year-round, as customers have come to expect, they are shipped literally halfway around the world.
 
Paul Fookes
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:I suspect "eat locally, eat what is in season" started as a pushback against the crazy supply chains we see in supermarkets. In order to keep some produce items (esp. fruit) in stock year-round, as customers have come to expect, they are shipped literally halfway around the world.



I suspect Douglas you are right.  It is about food miles  and the total cost of shipping, ripping off the growers and buying the cheapest to maximise profits.  For my money, there is nothing that tastes as good as home grown.  Irrespective of the reason, I attempt to grow or find food that has not gone through the forced growth, picking when unripe and thrust onto supermarket shelves as top quality produce.
 
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Howdy,
Besides alot of what was mentioned above, I sprout seeds to eat
 
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I have heard of only eating what grows in your county, no bananas,pineapply or oranges for me, but I can grow them in a greenhouse.
You can eat fresh asparagus in the Fall, if you manage it correctly.
So you can eat seasonally with a greenhouse, also.
I say good home grown food is the best way & forget the rest of the stuff as some ones opinion, just like this is MY opinion.  
 
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Both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have guidelines on seasonal eating based on the idea that our bodies change with the seasons and do better when we eat certain foods with each season. For example during summer the heat tends to reduce the appetite, so the idea of a heavy meal is less appealing then a crisp salad or cold slice of watermelon. The idea of watermelon on a cold winter day isn't quite so appealing for most people.

I agree with most of what's been stated already, and we try to eat seasonally for the most part, but I freeze greens and other veggies and have them in winter, which is strictly not seasonal but I'm going to do it anyway. We dry, ferment, can, and freeze foods for the winter, then sprout seeds in January/February for some fresh flavor.

I think it's really important to learn from the past, but I don't want to be a slave to it either. We have citrus in winter and I'm thankful for the opportunity. That was our Christmas treat when I was growing up so it has a special appeal for me.

 
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Another aspect of eating seasonally is "poaching" your heat and light to raise crops developed to be raised inside during the winter.  This concept is one that some folks in the Micro Dwarf Tomato Projects have advanced as one reason for working with the littles.  They feel that in the future many homes will raise inside crops in the winter.  Ones that take advantage of the environment we already make for ourselves.  NOT greenhouses but rather plants spread through out the house so food could be grown locally with less need to transport it long distances.
 
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This is such an interesting question! First we need to define what "eating seasonally" means to us. Is is eating what can be harvested at that time of year in your area, and trying to eat only what our ancestors would have eaten at that time of year. For many of us, these are going to be wildly different things.
So many variables!
For the first one - how far a radius do you count as "your area" and is preserving allowed? For the second one, there are even more variables. Is what we "should" be eating what we ate where we grew up rather than where we live now, or  should it be where our ancestors lived? How far back in our ancestry do we want to go? A hundred years, five hundred years, two thousand years? Were our ancestors wealthier folk, with a lot more food choices, or were they poor, dying if they couldn't adapt to what may have been a scanty and monotonous diet over winter once the yule celebrations used up the food that wouldn't store longer?
There are no right answers here, just different ones.
Reducing food miles is a good thing for the planet. Growing with a minimum of synthetic input is better for both us and the planet. Food that is naturally ripened and hasn't been in long storage, or has been preserved using methods that keep nutrients intact, are going to be better for us that foods drenched in additives, kept in refrigerators, then artificially ripened. We undoubtedly do each have a unique genetic make-up that affects how our bodies react to and utilise foods, that will be influenced by our ancestral heritage.
If you're limiting food miles and artificial inputs in your food, and you feel healthy and good on what you eat, you're probably fine. It's when we don't feel well we need to start looking at our food choices and how those might be hindering our best health for whatever genetic heritage we carry.
 
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I have never considered "eat seasonally" to be advice that is fundamentally about diet, in the sense of being about what is healthy to eat.  I've always understood it to be a rule of prudence, common sense, economy, and thrift.

In other words, when it's watermelon time, eat yourself silly on watermelons. But don't eat watermelon shipped from South America in January except as as a festival/party food on the rarest holiday occasion, because (a) the farther any food gets from home, the less awesome it is, (b) you'll spend yourself broke, and (c) it's just bone-headed and bad for everybody to ship food all over the planet except as a sporadic luxury.  

I grew up in the boreal forests of the Yukon River valley, with extremely minimal local grocery store options and a long supply chain to get groceries shipped in.  I remember my mother and father having a horrible argument one year about whether to have turkey (probably shipped frozen all the way from California) or moose roast for Thanksgiving dinner.  My father strongly felt that eating the extremely fine moose roast was the best way to celebrate what we were truly thankful for that year (having gotten a moose for winter meat, which we only managed about one winter in three).  Seasonal eating in that place was wild game hunted in the fall and hung until it froze on the meat rack, preserved salmon from summer fishing (pickled, dried, smoked, and canned), and long-storing summer garden vegetables from the root cellar (cabbage, rutabega, carrots, turnips, celery, and most of all potatoes).  Plus a few home-canned jams, jellies, pickles, and garden vegetables.  Supplemented by the imported dried staples we ate year around (beans, rice, flour, oats, powdered milk) and a few commercial canned goods (tomato paste, corn and peas and greenbeans, fruit cocktail).  

I knew one fur trapper who took the "eat what you got" thing so seriously that he cooked and ate his lynx and martin carcasses.  We were meat-hungry enough to try that a few times, but meat from obligate predators is ... not excellent.  
 
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One input for "eating seasonally" would be watching what wild foods are available in my area through the year.

Here, the spring ephemerals are done, chicweed and dandelions and bittercress and asparagus and other spring greens are gone to seed or gone for the year, overwinter greens in the garden [kale] have bolted and are putting on seeds, tender summer greens [lambs quarters] are coming on, and summer mint family is well established. I think trying to regularly add some wild foods to the diet works with the body's rhythm, and our bodies probably adapted those rhythms from eating what was available. Eating spring greens helps the liver do its job of detoxing in the spring.

Every herbalist knows you better gather when things are available or there will be none until next year.

Our ancestors would have had intimate knowledge of what grew where and when.
They would also have known how to save seeds and meat and fruit and nuts for eating through the lean times.

 
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Hi, Mike! I like your question about what eating seasonally looks like in a cold climate. I’m Ojibwe - among other things. Our entire traditional seasonal round involves not only eating seasonally but putting up for winter most of the foods that are also eaten fresh. This starts as winter is breaking to spring, with sugaring. Most maple sap is now processed into syrup, since it can easily be stored in bottles and jars, but historically it was processed into sugar and stored in birch bark cones and even duck bills. Spring is a pretty hungry time, since (as you know, living up here) it takes a while for warm weather to show up and make things grow. We’re gonna have a #%$! frost tomorrow night. But at least we get fish, edible roots (before their energy goes into above-ground growth), and those early greens. Strawberries don’t really happen til early summer (and juneberries - not til July!), but high summer is the berry bonanza with thimbleberries, dewberries, raspberries, blackcaps, blueberries - again, you already know this. Some would be dried. Ojibwe people have been gardeners since long pre-contact, growing squash and corn among others, not sweet corn but flint corn for hominy. And of course the other critical food is wild rice, harvested as summer turns to fall. The rice, corn, squash, roots (which can again be dug later in fall), berries, sugar, etc went into birch bark lined pits, at least some of it, for winter storage. I have wondered how those food caches were accessed after a deep snow but they clearly were, or I wouldn’t be here! Oh yes, the fall fruits, I almost forgot - crabapple, plum, chokeberries, cranberries... and meat. Then in the winter, snaring rabbits & fishing through the ice, collecting the fruits that hang on (like highbush cran), the occasional big score like moose or bear.

Of course, I’ll be making rhubarb pie soon, then tomato salad, veggie curries, celebrating the return of eggs with the return of the winter sun, buying up sheep cheese after lambing - thanks to my Norse & German immigrant ancestors 😛 Mm, all the food - it’s all good.
 
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Help me here, does eat seasonally mean no winter squash or pumpkins & we should not can good or can them, but only use in the season they grow?
 
Marisa Lee
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Oh yeah, I didn’t think about beans, nuts, and seeds. We don’t have a lot of nut trees this far north, but we have lots of hazelnut shrubs & some butternut trees, related to walnut. We have American chestnut trees that never got the blight because they are isolated from the main population, but those were introduced (I have some reasons I believe this was pre-settlement but nothing conclusive). At this point we also have some walnut and hickory, but those are introduced too, as we are just north of their range here, and west of beech nut. But those are important seasonal foods for sure.
 
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:
...
If you have ancestors from several different climates, it's anybody's guess which adaptations you've inherited. It's even possible some of those adaptations may be contradictory, which leads to some interesting challenges even without trying to eat seasonally!


Exactly. I think this also raises the question of why the "seasonal eating" question arises. I enjoy growing some of my family's food, but I'm also grateful to have ready access to nutritious food that I don't (or can't) grow.

I rate nutrition as the most important quality of food. Without that, nothing else matters much, including cost, transportation distance, and even flavour. I like fresh, locally grown food (especially from my garden), but I'm grateful for bananas, nuts, and oranges. I've survived on much less in the past but now thrive on the richer choices available to me. Privation may build character, but it doesn't enhance strength or longevity.
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:I've often heard the advice to "Eat Seasonally".  I figure that at a minimum this means you shouldn't be trying to eat asparagus in the autumn.  And it kind of means we should eat salads in early summer, gorge on tomatoes in September, eat apples in October.  Easy peasy.  But what do I do in February?  
Some traditional winter foods I think of are chili, lasagna, chicken soup and roasted veggies.  Those rely on things that are harvested in the fall and preserved.  So does preserved food count towards eating seasonally?
Or is it eating with the seasons in the way my ancestors (northern European) would have?  Meat and stored root crops?



We might want to start with the premise: "Eat seasonally". It made sense then, and it makes sense now. That is perhaps the best reason to try and eat that way: It makes it easier to "eat local" too, and there is less energy expended on moving a produce off season.
I think we are so spoiled because grocery stores are always so well stocked in fruit and veggies from far away lands. We get a hankering for strawberries in January, well we can just go and pick up a pint. But perhaps we should buck that system: It makes everything more expensive, and perhaps makes picky eaters out of us all.
So, yes, eating preserved food totally counts towards "eating seasonally". It is in the summer that we can stock on local foods, [if we can't grow them], buy them bulk and can them/ store them. Radishes, the small type and daikon as well are good season extenders for me: they grow fairly fast. Root crops and cabbages were pretty much the only fresh vegetables our ancestors ate in the winter before the coming of the potato in Europe. There were lots of soups too, because keeping up the body temperature in cold weather was also important.
In France, bread from wheat was such a staple that after the Revolution, laws were enacted so as to keep the price of it affordable, and prisoners were kept on a steady diet of French bread. The French toast, which nowadays is slathered  in mounds of fresh strawberries, plus syrup, whipped cream was originally just a way to use up stale bread: You'd soak it in a mixture of eggs and milk, toss it in a frying pan and voilà!
Wheat, beans and other cereals qualify as local and stored crops. So do beans in grain, lentils, split peas etc.
They require a little soaking before cooking but they are delicious in their own right.
The real French bread only has yeast, flour and water, very little salt. No eggs, butter or milk [which are ingredients in the "brioche", that sweet yeast bread that got Marie Antoinette in such trouble!] That is also a good reason why France has so many sauces: The stale bread was placed in the onion soup as a meal extender, but bread will often be used to gather as much sauce on it and eat it. Bread is a "complete" food and adds quickly to the calorific content of a 'poor' meal.
Of course, I'm grateful for bananas, avocados and pineapple, which do not grow in Wisconsin, but maybe they should be relegated to "treats".
I remember Christmas of 1954 in France. My parents didn't have much and our local government arranged for oranges to be given to every kid in our little town. My mother wept openly. It was the first time they could "afford" oranges, which were still a rarity. So, you see, it isn't that far back that we didn't have things that are now so common. Maybe we don't have enough appreciation for these foods...
Such very different times.
 
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My Mom was born in 1932, she said as a kid they would get an orange for Christmas. When money was plentiful they would get an orange and a dime.
 
David Wieland
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You described the Western commoner's standard diet in earlier times. As a former homesteader, I'm well-acquainted with the old-time approach that is valuable in developing self-sufficiency skills but demands a serious time and effort commitment. (It was part of the adventure that my wife and I embarked on in the early years of our marriage, and it was a great joint project in our 20s. We're both glad to have done it and also to have been able to move on to other development. Of course, gardening is one of the skills we learned that we'll use as long as possible.) Sometimes people seem to feel that a primitive life is superior, but I doubt that any of them have tried it.

I don't have any qualms about being a consumer of food produced by growers in warmer climates. Why shouldn't we take advantage of what their environment supports seasonally and provides them a source of income?

Regarding bread, I wonder where the idea of bread being a complete food comes from. It certainly doesn't provide  complete protein, and it's potentially dangerous to diabetics.
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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David Wieland wrote:

Regarding bread, I wonder where the idea of bread being a complete food comes from. It certainly doesn't provide  complete protein, and it's potentially dangerous to diabetics.




Think multi-grain, whole-grain breads, maybe even with legumes as one of the grains. Use eggs as part of the liquid, and give it a long rise time, possibly over the course of days instead of hours.

Modern-day Wonderbread is not where that idea came from.
 
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In cold climates seasonal fasting is also probably part of the diet.
 
Mike Feddersen
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I think fasting was normal for everyone, but especially during the cold, or cooler months. I imagine most of our ancestors were nomadic and followed their favorite food group.
 
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My family eats Mostly locally.  We have a big garden, we preserve food (can, freeze, a tiny amount of dehydrating) as well as hunting and raising livestock for meat and eggs.  
But we're also semi-freegan... so we eat a lot of stuff imported from other places.
For us it's a multifaceted issue... Cost is a huge driver, but also concern about waste (fuel, etc), nutrition, and just family culture.  But we have a hard time telling people that we eat local when they can see the oranges and bananas in our kitchen... since we don't advertise how extensive my freegan activities are.  
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