Yogis, active people, and all of us who value health and vitality know how important it is to incorporate fresh produce into our diets all year-round. These days we can generally get any type of produce we want at any time of the year from the grocery store. But every living thing has its own particular growing season. If we were living prior to the time of industrialized and globalized food systems, there would be times of year when we simply couldn't get certain foods. Taking time to learn what grows naturally in your area and in which season can help empower you to make healthy eating choices that are also socially and environmentally responsible. When we shop at large conventional grocery stores, it’s harder to get a sense of what’s local and in season.
Eating with the seasons means eating what is available from your local environment. Our bodies are designed to benefit from the foods that grow naturally during the season in which we they grow. Of course, it’s a lot easier to eat seasonally in certain parts of the country than others, but no matter where you live, there are ways to bring more seasonal food into your diet.
Check out these three springtime veggies that that you can look for at your local farmers markets and natural foods stores:
This delicious leafy plant enhances any salad with its peppery flavor. It can grow in very light shade, but it thrives in the sun, which will produce a stronger peppery flavor. Older arugula leaves will also have a much stronger flavor than newer ones; its flowers are edible when used as a garnish. Arugula is a flavorful plant that is simply delicious in salads and sandwiches.
Like it’s green cousin, broccoli, the cauliflower is a member of the Brassicaceae family and its white buds can be cooked, boiled, pickled, or eaten raw. Although the white cauliflower is the most recognizable of the bunch, this vegetable also comes in orange, green, and purple varieties (FUN fact: the vibrant purple version is a result of an antioxidant that is also found in purple cabbage and red wine!)
The grapefruit was discovered in Barbados in the late 18th century. It is a cross between the Jamaican sweet orange and the Indonesian pomelo, and up until the 19th century it was grown as decoration rather than as an edible treat. When selecting grapefruits, look for ones that are heavier than expected for their size. This means that they will have a thinner flesh and more juice!
While availability of locally grown produce is obviously limited by things like climate and soil fertility, communities all over the country are finding ways to grow healthy food, even if the growing season lasts only a few months per year (that's what pickling and preserves are for!). Californians are SO blessed to have abundant year-round farmers markets available to us. In Santa Barbara, we are stoked that they are a huge part of our community. We are sending out a big thanks to all the local farmers who have helped keep our bodies and our local soils healthy!