Summer and fall in Nova Scotia are an eater’s paradise. First the asparagus, then the strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, peas, eggplants, apples, pears…the list goes on. It’s a cornucopia of delicious foods that make every meal as delightful as a warm summer day!
“Eating with the seasons” is a concept that many have heard before, but often don’t fully grasp until the summer bounty arrives. But eating fruits and veggies in season promotes natural variety in our diets that is well suited to what our bodies need at different times of the year. Think crisp, leafy greens in the summer and dense, warming root vegetables in the winter. Seasonal foods are also at their peak nutrition, and because they are harvested when fully ripe, the high concentration of minerals and nutrients enhances the natural flavour. Ever tasted a vine ripened tomato that’s picked from the garden, or fresh peas straight out of the pod? The sweetness is undeniable.
Children like to explore everything, including the many different foods that they’re exposed to. Touching, tasting, seeing and smelling whatever is in front of them is what helps children decipher their own food preferences over time. In fact, the best time in a child’s life to shape their palate is up to the age of two, before they hit the “no” stage and may temporarily start refusing new foods. In France this is commonly understood as l’education du gout– the education of taste.
Not only can our preferences can be shaped by the foods we’re exposed to, but also the deeper experiences we have with food. These experiences—whether it be choosing our foods, helping to prepare them, or even growing some of our own food—help children become more knowledgeable and confident in their food choices and learn to experiment with new foods and flavours. The process of getting to know their food (in all its forms) helps develop healthy habits that can extend into adulthood. This is what eating with the seasons is all about!
So whether you’re thinking about first foods to introduce to your little one, or what delicious meals you can make for you family, looking for what’s in season is a great place to start. You can count on those seasonal foods to be delicious and just what the body needs!