by Beth Heller MS, RYT
Seasonality is a concept that went out of vogue with the advent of super-stores and refrigerated shipping. I remember seasonality from my childhood growing up in Michigan when I could guess the month from the fruit my mom placed on the breakfast table. If she served cantaloupe or watermelon I could put money on the fact that school was out for the summer. Oranges and grapefruit were winter fruits, which we would occasionally pack home with us from our winter break trips to Florida for a sunny treat on short winter days. Berries were an early summer thing, although Michigan raspberries were available through October if the weather was warm…and if there was homemade apple sauce on the table it was late September. Ditto vegetables. We simply didn’t eat tomatoes when they weren’t growing in our garden. And when summer ended and the garden turned brown there was squash – lots of it – to be stored for stews and soups during the cold winter months.
But as I got older, stores got bigger. Suddenly cantaloupe was available in January…pale, crunchy cantaloupe but cantaloupe. Tomatoes, too, and disturbingly large red apples began to appear. My mom got a job and had less time for gardening. So the food on our table changed.
I often wonder how much of our obesity, infertility and chronic health problems arise from the simple fact that we’ve allen out of rhythm with our food source. For optimal health and fertility, traditional medical teachings recommend eating seasonally and locally. In keeping with the ancient belief that we are healthier and happier when our bodies are in tune with the cycles of nature, it follows we should eat foods that grow in our geographical area while they are in season. Traditional systems teach that foods and people in the same geographical area have "similar energy." This may be true in the sense that plants and the people living as neighbors share the same weather, air, soil and "roots." Whether indigenous or adoptive species, plants that thrive in particular areas are there because they are well-suited and have established harmony with their surroundings. When we eat foods that exist in harmony with our surroundings, it's believed we take some of that harmony into our own bodies.
So, what’s “in” for April? The light flavors of spring are in right now and are full of fertility-supporting nutrients. Many stores now state the origin of their produce so for an added bonus choose fruits and vegetables grown nearby. Seasonal spring choices contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Since many conditions that cause infertility – PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids and poor egg quality – are associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, increasing your intake of these fruits and veg are a great idea!
- Arugula – looks and acts like a green but is classified as a cruciferous vegetable and may help healthy hormone metabolism. Arugula is also lower in oxalates, chemicals in leafy greens like spinach, which interfere with calcium absorption. You can stir a handful of arugula into a delicious Spring Minestrone soup for a delicious satisfying meal.
- Artichokes – an excellent source of Vitamin C and believed by some cultures to be an aphrodisiac.
- Asparagus -great source of potassium, vitamin A and folate and is naturally low in sodium. Also believed to be an aphrodisiac…
- Beets – contain betelains, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Eat beets lightly steamed or grate them raw into salads to because the benefits of betelains are thought to diminish with heat.
- Leeks – while not as extensively studied as its cousin garlic, leeks are an allium vegetable and have many of the same beneficial sulfur-containing compounds as garlic.
- Morel mushrooms – a great source of the antioxidant compound selenium. Morels have also been studied for their natural blood sugar balancing action.
- Strawberries (if you live in the South) – strawberries are a fertility superfood filled with antioxidant vitamins and lignins, fiber that has been shown to lower cholesterol. Lignins are also a favorite food of beneficial gut bacteria and has been called a “pre-biotic” because it promotes a healthy intestinal flora.
Where possible, of course, choose organic. Experiment and share your results with us.