Who knew that eating with the seasons is just what nature intended? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the world is a harmonious and holistic entity where all living beings are viewed in relation to the surrounding environment. TCM agrees that we are what we eat and that it’s important to consume foods according to the season. In ancient TCM philosophies, consuming seasonal foods that are similar in nature to the external environment help us remain in harmony with the environment, adapt better to seasonal changes, and stay healthy. The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor put forth the principle that one should cultivate the yang energy in spring and summer, while protecting the yin energy in autumn and winter.
This philosophy takes on a whole new meaning with our current global food economy. Eating in accordance with what’s in season in your particular region has many advantages due to the transporting of our food. “The closer we eat to the source and the less processing and shipping, the more nutritional value we can access. There is less risk of contamination, less fuel used, and less waste in the environment,” says Terry Walters, author of the seasonal cookbook Clean Food. According to the National Resources Defense Council, most produce grown in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets sold. A grape traveling from Chile to California travels approximately 5,900 miles!
Fortunately, many of the summer foods recommended by TCM are foods that are naturally in season and can be found at your local farmers market. Some of the foods to look for are watermelon, cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, watercress, cucumber, summer squash, zucchini, Chinese cabbage, and spinach.
To find out what’s in-season in your area, head to your local farmers market or check out the National Resources Defense Council Eat Local Guide.