Seasonal Eating

Just a quick post because E has been talking about jumping on the ancestral eating bandwagon.  For those of us whose ancestors lived where there are profound seasonal changes in food availability, there is also something called seasonal eating.

You’ll find information about seasonal patterns of eating in any farming or homesteading discussion, and in old books about life away from cities generally.  You eat what there is to eat.  That’s why my NW European mutt genes digest fermented dairy very well.  What else is there to eat, much of the year?   Animal fat (including dairy) is walking vitamin storage for places where there isn’t much vegetation to be had for 1/4-1/2 of the year.  Meat, it’s what’s for dinner.

In the WINTER.  And we get confused about that because we forget that the way our ancestors ate in December (when the harvest was relatively fresh, and everything is cold) and in June are very different.  You’re not going to kill a cow (except for a special occasion or if it’s dying anyway) in the middle of summer – you can’t consume the meat before it goes off.  Ancestral peoples were not wasteful of food.  Heck, my MOM gets up in arms if she sees food wasted.  It’s a very recent thing where we let food go to waste.

So, seasonal eating is about eating what’s ripe and available in the season you happen to be in, in the locale you happen to live in.   (I might like to eat heavy fatty sugar foods to bulk up for a Northern winter, but I live in SoCal, and really I can manage donuts about once every couple of months without getting grossed out.  I have lived in cold climates – that changes, believe me).

When spring rolls around, you’re going to start eating fresh green things, as many as you can shove down your throat.  Why?  You haven’t even *seen* a fresh green thing in months, you’re craving them.  You know half of rhubarb is poisonous?  And we EAT them – they’re an early spring delicacy.  Cravings, they are.  And you’re probably starting to run low on the meat stores – which is fine, because it’s starting to warm up anyway.

Bodies naturally gain weight when the days grow shorter, and lose weight when days grow longer.  Yes, there is a rhythmic nature to your weight fluctuations.  But if you live in central heating, you probably don’t need to let it take over… also, you’re not running out of food in late winter/early spring, so … um… yeah, we do have to be aware that we don’t have those needs anymore.  (linkie)

In the early summer, you have a ton of eggs, you’re starting to see some berries, you’ve got lettuces, and you’re getting more milk from your dairy animals.  At this point, except for fish and fowl, you probably aren’t eating a ton of meat.   Late summer means food everywhere, but you’re also working your tail off getting it harvested and processed for winter.  Same for fall.

And the traditional season for butchering animals starts in October… when it starts to get cold enough to keep the meat with primitive methods of preservation.   And we have a ton of eating-centric holidays in the harvest months.  Hm.  I wonder how *that* happened…

I think all of this stuff is fairly logical.  What’s available to eat where you are, when you are, is probably what you need to eat to stay healthiest – as long as you’re eating all of the things, which most of us don’t.  (No tiny fishes for me, I’m sorry).  Adjust according to your body’s needs, your environmental needs, pay attention, and substitute in matching foods for the foods you just aren’t eating.  /shrug.



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