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The Benefits of Seasonal Eating

By Jason Dwight, co-owner and executive chef of Persepshen

It goes without saying that what we eat matters. From the time we were small, weve heard we need to eat our fruits and vegetables, decrease our sugar intake and eat nutrient dense food. 

But we havent been listening. For the first time in decades, the average life expectancy has dropped. The youth of today are not expected to live as long as their parents. A big contributor is heart and liver disease; both of which are heavily impacted by diet and the way we treat our bodies.

Its a little doom and gloom, but its important to connect the dots between the food we eat and how it impacts our health. One of the easiest ways to ensure your body is getting the best food available, and all the benefits, is to eat seasonally.

Seasonal eating is the backbone of how we cook, both at our family restaurant Persepshen (4700 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix) and at home. We all live fast-paced and busy lives, but we firmly believe one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health is to slow down when it comes to food. Lets talk about the health, community and flavor benefits of a seasonal diet.

Health Benefits


First, let
s talk about what you typically get when you purchase food at a grocery store. The timing of grocery store produce is all wrong. A study by the sustainable agriculture arm of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) found that freshproduce travels over 1,500 miles before reaching the consumer. Imported food also often comes from industrial farms, meaning the produce is harvested out of season. This timing issue equals a major loss for the consumer; an average nutrient loss of 30%.

The yields of industrial farming are at an all-time high, and people have access to ample calories. But its not just about the quantity of food its about the quality. The truth is modern farming just grows less nutritious food; the food we eat today contains less protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin and vitamin C than food produced only 50 years ago.

A common term for what people are experiencing is hidden hunger.This form of undernutrition is the result of food that is energy dense, but lacking in vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iodine and iron. In laymans terms, people arent hungry, but they also arent healthy. When we dont get the nutrients our body needs, we are left with decreased brain function, a compromised immune system and chronic fatigue.

All of the problems addressed above can be solved by eating seasonal foods, because seasonal foods are whole foods. When you are eating locally grown food, you consume it soon after its harvested. Youre getting the food as fresh as it gets, unless you have your own garden, and that means the highest percentage of nutrients available. It is honestly that simple. Think of it as a car; many high-performance cars require premium gasoline because it helps prevent future engine problems. Our bodies are also high-performance vessels, or they can be when we provide them with the fuel theyve been designed to use. Like premium gasoline, eating whole, nutrient dense food is a form of functional medicine; it is a way to avoid future health problems.

Community Benefits


Eating seasonally, and by extension locally, isn
t just good for your physical health; its also supremely important to the health of your community.

First, buying food from local vendors keeps money in the community. Of every dollar spent locally, 70 cents remain in the community. Less than 40 cents remain when spent at a national corporation. Keeping the money in the community supports our small local farms and helps them to continue producing better food. And its not just good for the farmer a stronger local food economy means a shorter supply chain and a shorter supply chain means more consistent access to food.

But Its not all about money. Supporting local farms also connects us to one another and helps us to come together as a community. When we meet the people who labor for our food, we have an increase in gratitude and understanding.

Flavor Benefits

If better health and a stronger community arent good enough reasons to start eating seasonally, then maybe the flavor will be. When something is harvested at its peak, it has had ample time to ripen and produce the sugars, vitamins and proteins that give it flavor. Eating seasonally also provides the opportunity to try new things and experience new flavors.

Local, seasonal food just tastes better.

Ways to Practice Seasonal Eating

Seasonal eating clearly has tremendous benefits and it is easy to do! Here are a few of the ways that we access natures best food:

1. The cheapest way is to plant your own garden! Despite the heat, Arizona is a great place to grow produce.
2. Shop at your local farmers market. Maricopa county has dozens of farmers markets year-round, so its accessible to everyone. Many markets also accept SNAP payments.
3. Get the most out of your seasonal produce by using the whole plant! You can use beet and broccoli leaves as any other hearty green or turn them into a pesto. Broccoli and cauliflower stalks can also be roasted. Extra tomatoes can be turned into tomato sauce that you can freeze and have on hand for months.

Good food takes time and may require some imagination. But the health, community and flavor benefits are worth it.

Check out Green Living’s recipes and more food articles on our Savor page!

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