Indiana & Yoga Magazine Summer 2016 Issue 1 - Page 10

FOOD Local Mindful Eating The Power of In-Season Foods By Jennifer Malins products sold directly from local farms is one of my favorite activities of summer. I love seeing carrots and beets of varying shapes, sizes and colors still dusted with earth rather than the oddly uniform, sterile-looking vegetables in the supermarkets. A great example of this is the tomato, which makes its appearance on sandwiches year-round. Out of season, they are pink and mushy with almost no flavor and smell. When I eat a tomato off of the vine during the summer months, I can feel the difference in my body’s vitality almost immediately. For many of us, summer conjures up a host of happy images, such as camping trips, canoeing, long nature walks, or slowly sipping lemonade on the front porch. The days are long and sunny, and fireflies light up the sky as crickets serenade us on these warm balmy nights. We often feel healthier in the summer as the sun exposure replenishes our depleted stores of Vitamin D and enhances our mood. Increased physical activity helps us shed the extra pounds we may have gained during the long, dark months of winter, and our vitality increases as we consume the fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms and our own gardens. It is a time of joy and release. After being pent up during the winter months, we may feel hungry for activity, especially now that we have more time and energy. And like squirrels gathering nuts to sustain them through the winter months, we gather the light of the sun and the experiences the warm days afford us, knowing that the light of summer will fade as the cooler days return. Yet each season brings its own unique 8 flavors, healing properties, celebrations and challenges. An effective method of staying balanced and healthy, regardless of the season, is to start living according to the cycles of nature. Central to this idea is consuming food that is in season and grown locally. Summer is the easiest time to begin this journey, whether it’s by visiting the local farmers markets throughout the city, growing our own food, or a combination of the two. Making pesto with basil we grew in our windowsills, adding home-grown blueberries to our morning smoothies, or eating strawberries picked by a farmer just days before allows us to re-connect to the earth and the land that surrounds us on a physical, tangible level. In turn, this brings our focus to the present moment, which is an important part of any spiritual practice. In other words, it is yoga in its culinary form, in which union of mind, body and spirit is achieved using local, seasonal food as a vehicle. Visiting famers markets filled with local, in-season fruits, vegetables and other When I moved back to Indiana from California, I was pleasantly surprised by the local food movement. One of the leaders of this movement is Growing Placing Indy, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “. . . cultivate the culture of urban agriculture and healthy lifestyles, empowering individuals and communities to Grow Well, Eat Well, Live Well and Be Well.” The produce from their urban farms can be found at the local farmers markets, and they offer many educational programs and services to encourage residents to support consuming local food. The idea is that when we have access to whole foods grown without chemicals that harm our bodies and our environment, and support sustainable agriculture and our local farmers, we will thrive as a community. Laura Henderson, Executive Director of GPI, explained some of the health benefits of eating local, seasonal food. During the winter months, she explained, we eat more meat and fat to stay warm. During the hotter months, we eat less and in smaller quantities, especially meat. Our ancestors ate with the seasons because they had no choice, but now, as a result of sometimes harmful technology, we not only consume foods out of season, but also GMOs and processed foods, which were not part of our food supply until very recently. “We’re changing the way we eat faster than our bodies can evolve,” said Henderson. INDIANA & YOGA MAGAZINE ISSUE I