We are officially in August, folks. The last month of summer is in full swing, and with its advent comes a good reminder to indulge in the fresh produce that the season offers.
Though modern food processing has made grocery shelves look the same in the dead of winter as they do in July, there are many benefits of eating food in its proper season. Think about it: There was a time where people ate the fruits and vegetables available to them, and to their credit, it seems that there were fewer food intolerances and allergies to deal with back then. In fact, many would say that eating the right kinds of food during the right time of the year and avoiding them at other times is very important to a healthy diet. The line of thinking is that seasonal eating is a way for Westerners to reconnect with food eating patterns as nature originally intended.
If "reconnecting with Mother Nature" doesn’t convince you of the importance of eating seasonally, that’s OK. It seems slightly farfetched to me, too. However, there are other benefits of eating in season. For example, fruits and vegetables consumed in the appropriate season maintain their optimal nutritional integrity. Out-of-season produce presented to the consumer requires pesticides, waxes, preservatives and other chemicals in order for them to survive. These things naturally compromise the nutritional value of the food itself. Also, eating fresh produce means that you will be rotating out different fruits and vegetables, which may help prevent your body from developing various intolerances.
Eating foods in season is also good for the local economy and therefore has a positive effect on the overall economy. It also helps the environment by greatly cutting down on the number of miles your food has to travel to get to your plate. Chattanooga is a great place to engage with sustainable agriculture, and the Chattanooga Market is one of the best ways to do this. Oh, and seasonal foods are cheaper to buy because they are cheaper to produce, which means eating in season is overall easier on your wallet.
All right, so you’ve now decided to eat in season. Luckily for you, August offers some delicious options for your new endeavor.
Despite the bad rap that corn gets for being an ingredient in … everything, corn in its most pure form is actually good for you and is currently being harvested. It’s a great source of niacin, vitamin C and folic acid. Studies on the benefits of folic acid have shown it to be important in preventing neural-tube birth defects and heart disease.
Zucchini is great because it is low in calories yet incredibly substantive. It is also high in vitamins A, C and K and potassium. It’s also incredibly versatile and can be used in pancakes, lasagna or even as a healthy alternative to fries. Or you can go the simple route and grill some up with tomatoes and black beans for a delicious, vegetarian skillet meal.
Yellow summer squash
Like its relative, zucchini, yellow summer squash is a good source of vitamins C and K and potassium, without many calories. It is also a good source of fiber. You can grill this veggie as well, but it also makes for a good pizza topping or soup.
I have some really weird food allergies, but berries are one fruit that I can eat—and good thing, too, because they are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. Blackberries have also been shown to be helpful in slowing cognitive decline, protecting the heart and lowering blood pressure. They are also an excellent source of vitamins C and K and manganese.
Whether you agree with the health claims of eating in season or flat-out don’t care, you have to admit that fresher is better. I encourage you to take advantage of eating these summer harvest fruits and veggies before "the man" pumps them all full of chemicals.
If you are really interested in eating seasonably year-round, check out this helpful infographic.
Rashad J. Gober is a gym junkie, avid runner and freelance writer whose interests include pop culture and healthy living. But he's not a doctor, so his suggestions are no substitute for medical advice. Feel free to contact him via Twitter or email with any comments or suggestions. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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