Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Seasons of Food

Lately I've been thinking about the cyles of seasons and how they affect our food. Well, let's take that back. The seasons don't affect our food these days so much, but historically they did. As we read in the food admonitions of the D&C, "all things of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for man's benefit" (59:18), and in the Word of Wisdom, "use every herb in it's season" (89:11). But these days, we eat salad in January, and fresh beef in July.

A few modern food philosophers are still advocating a return to seasonal food. Barbara Kingsolver, in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle found that eating local to reduce one's carbon footprint also mandated eating seasonally. (I recommend this book if you want to change your thinking about food.) Michael Pollan likewise makes a strong case for eating seasonally in his gastro-philosophical work In Defense of Food: an eater's manifesto. Though most of America might eat in ignorance of their food origins, some are really taking seasonality to heart.

With the cooler weather we had our inagural soup this week. My good wife made a chowder with kielbasa sausage, butternut squash, and cheddar cheese. I had four helpings. I was excited about it because I love soup season more than salad season. It got me thinking about how my approach to food has changed over the past couple of years.

As I've been doing these pioneer food experiments I've moved more and more to a seasonal approach to food. Part of that has to do with raising my own garden. Once you plant a garden it yields so much bounty that you have no choice but to set about eating it as fast as you can. This makes our summer meals exceptionally fresh and filled with vegetables. Then as the fall harvest comes on I feel negligent if we don't put some of it away for winter. Naturally winter demands more hearty meals from preserved foods (like our sauerkraut). And by spring we're just itching for something fresh again so we plant lettuce and radishes early.

All of this seasonality leaves me feeling more connected to my food. I have a greater ownership of it, and I get just a little put out when I have to eat away from home. Further, it brings the seasons to have a more profound, almost spiritual meaning in my life. It fills me with a sense of wonder and excitement. The seasonal food celebrations also take on greater meaning: a Christmas pudding, an Easter lamb, the first tomatoes in late summer all take on a sense of celebration.

What are your favorite seasonal foodways?


Jana said...

I'm going to have to agree with you; a steamy hot bowl of soup or stew when there's a nip in the air just hits the spot.

Shannon said...

Profound post, dear. :)

MissC said...

Fall. The hard work of summer and harvest are in; preserving is done, and it is time to count your blessings.

Spring is my next favorite; the winter is gone. The days are getting longer and we can have fresh things again.