PICKLES, JAMS, SAUERKRAUT AND SEASONAL VEGETABLES
Radishes in summer, pumpkins in spring and eating cooling raspberries and watermelon in the middle of winter. Our forefathers and mothers would be dumbfounded by the thought of this juxtaposition.
Globalisation and technology have created a manufactured situation where it is common practice to see a variety of fruit and vegetables available all year round. In July around my son’s birthday, he commented, ‘Mum we have not watermelon in ‘ages!’ I tried to explain to him that it was a seasonal vegetable and that it is not grown in winter. After a somewhat perplexed look, he commented and said, ‘Mum just get it at the shops!’ Seems logical for a 6-year-old.
The reason in fact that we had not had watermelon in ‘ages’, was not because I wanted to deprive my son of fruit and vegetables, it was due to my new year’s resolution. At the beginning of 2017, I decided I wanted to elevate our lifestyle and focus on my families’ health, reduce our waste and increase our family time together. By increasing our families’ time together I looked at where our time was being wasted. The one thing that stood out as a time waster was going to the supermarket. I realised that I spent approx. 250 hrs a year wasted at the supermarket. Rather than drudging to the supermarket, I researched and source organic, seasonal, ethical food and have it delivered most of the time to my door. If you wish to know more detail about how it is possible not to go to the supermarket, please send me an email and I would be more than happy to share how I did it. You can learn from my mistakes. (Email details below) Back to the topic of seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Past generations since the dawn of time, would eat fruit and vegetables in the season they were grown, mostly for practical reasons. They would respect elements that are required for growing vegetables, sun, soil, rain and wind. Before technology and modern advancements, humans could not alter the environment, alter microenvironments or manipulate the seeds, germination or surrounding environment. Nor could humans access commodities in varying seasons from around the world, as fast as we can now. Seasonality meant that for example watermelons that grow in the warmer months were not eaten in July. Food was eaten to season and locally sourced.
The only way watermelons or peaches for example, could be enjoyed out of season in the past was by preserving or drying. Preserving, conserving, curing and pickling were common practices in households especially when crop yield was in abundance, These now deemed ‘artisan’ practices were not only carried out because our forefathers wanted to taste fruit and vegetables all year around, but also because they enjoy the end product, varying flavours and the delightful mouthfuls of the artisan practices produced. These practices were also used because food was scarce, expensive and not to be wasted; waste not want not. Preserving practices around the world included; jams and jellies from UK and US, marinated giardiniera and marinating in the Mediterranean, sauerkraut from Germanic countries, kimchi from Korea and kvass from parts of Soviet countries. Some of these preserves are also fermented with bonus health benefits.
So why should we eat fruit and vegetables in season. Does it seem odd to eat cooling watermelon while the fire is trying to keep us warm, instead of warming vegetables like radishes or comfort vegetables such as leek for a yummy leek and potato soup? Our bodies need certain minerals, elements and properties based on our environment, the elements and nature around us. Maybe we are interrupting the balance by eating vegetables that are not in season or locally sourced. Instinctively in the past we eat hearty soups with hearty vegetables in the winter for warmth, wellness and to ward off illness.
Have we lost our natural instincts with food?
There are many theories about what fruit and vegetables we should and shouldn’t eat. Some theories suggest we should eat the fruit and vegetables based on the diet of our heritage. Humans have evolved over thousands of years and the theory here is that we can digest fruit and vegetables based on what our bodies have become accustomed to eating. With so many mixed raced families this can be tricky. Another theory about consuming plant based products is in Eastern cultures where fruit and vegetables have varying properties. Fruit and vegetables should and shouldn’t be consumed based on the type of person we are. For example in Chinese medicine I am considered to have a yang deficiency or I am a ‘damp’ person. According to Chinese medicine I should avoid and limit fruit and vegetables such as avocado, bananas and mushrooms as they are ‘damp’. A damp person according to their principles should eat warm foods like, ginger, garlic, berries, pepper, onion etc. I guess in a simplistic way fiery fruit and vegetables can dry out the damp and vice versa, possibly??
Food is to nourish
Food assists with wellness and often food is considered a medicine. Simply the better the quality, higher the mineral content of plant based ingredients, the better the nutrients for our body and health.
As well as our health reasons consider the resources, fuel, and carbon footprint we create by sourcing non-local fruit and vegetables. Flying vegetables around the world is costly to the environment. Movements such as source/buy local and paddock to plate instinctively happened in the past, Somehow I think we have forgotten or not passed down these basic principles such as eating seasonally, permaculture and sustainable culinary artisan delights. So next time you buy a watermelon in July read the label to see where it’s from, how long it’s been in a cool room for, how was its environment manipulated to get the plant to grow, what pesticides have been sprayed on it and what are the nutrient contents left if it’s taken weeks to get to your plate. If you have any grandparents still alive go and pick their brain. I’m sure they are a wealth of knowledge and may even have a family chutney recipe you had no idea existed, write it down before it’s lost for eternity.
Find in abundance fruit and vegetables in season for spring in Australia;
~ Fava Beans
This list sounds like a healthy salad to me, a Spring Salad
Words by ~
Anita La Forgia
Multipotentialite, lifestyle elevator and initiator of Levata
Growing up in a family restaurant and admiring her two grandmothers create food and even soap from scratch, Anita is passionate about food and nourishment made with quality ingredients, knowing the source of your food and cooking it with love. Like many she has been on a journey to find her ‘purpose’ in doing so created Levata, a lifestyle brand with inspiration to elevate a purposeful, mindful, eco-lux lifestyle.