Guest blog by Acupuncturist and IPF Volunteer Kath Berry on the importance of eating food which is grown locally and in season and diet nutrition from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view.
THE BENEFITS OF EATING LOCALLY-GROWN FOOD IN SEASON: AND WHY SALADS IN WINTER MAY NOT BE BEST FOR YOU
In the Ibiza Preservation Foundation‘s recent screening of the thought-provoking documentary “The Economics of Happiness” by award film-maker Helena Norberg-Hodge, a compelling argument was put forward about the social and financial benefits of eating locally produced food.
The funding cycle of food grown and sold locally through farmers markets and small businesses results in higher employment, social connectedness and a dramatic reduction on the environmental impact of transport, manufacturing and plastic packaging.
But did you know that there are profound HEALTH benefits of eating locally produced foods?
Local Produce versus Imported Food
Modern advances in refrigeration, preservation, and food transport mean that we can now import foods outside of their natural season from anywhere in the world. While at first this may seem great in terms of taste and variety – (the joys of strawberries in February!), it is not so beneficial for our health. This article explains why.
Imported foods are often picked before they have fully ripened, and artificially coloured or engineered to appear ripe. They may look juicy and appealing on the shelf, but these foods are often not what they seem. Worse still, many people now eat large amounts of highly processed foods which are low in nutrition and high in fat, sugar, salt, and hidden additives.
Most importantly, consuming food that is fresh and grown locally means only eating in accordance with the season. Seasonal foods ripen fully and naturally and are packed with nutrition, unlike those which have travelled half way across the world with their nutrients engineered out.
Another advantage of eating local, seasonal food is that they will meet your body’s changing requirements at different times of year. Many people find that they are instinctively drawn towards energy-rich comfort food in the winter (belonging to the earth element), whereas in summer they prefer fresh, juicy fruit and veg (wood element).
In traditional Chinese medicine, your diet should be tailored to suit your strengths – subject to your constitutional body type, the time of year and your digestive fortitude at the time of consumption. Foods are also seen as having heating, cooling, dampening, or drying properties depending on the location, season, and climate in which they are grown.