Nature's Nutrition

This time of year, I'm always trying to find ways to use eggs, and wondering if maybe we should cut down our duck flock.  Then I remember how I miss the bounty of limitless eggs in the fall and winter, and how this is really just a small part of the big picture of feeding ourselves in harmony with nature (I know that's cheesy, but I can't think of a better way to say it).  Speaking of cheese, this also the dairy time of year for us, another a great source of protein.

Right now, I have very little red meat.  My freezer has 2 packages of ground beef and a selection of steaks.  No venison, just a few chickens from last summer, and otherwise that's it for meat.  This year's meat chickens have just arrived in the mail, they won't be butchered for another 2-3 months.  What a coincidence that, until then, I'm swimming in eggs, a fantastic protein and all-around vitamin/nutrient source!  We'll live on eggs and veggies and cheese (and homemade egg pasta) through the summer, when it's too hot to be slow-roasting big beef roasts or whole chickens anyway, and about when the eggs run out, it'll be time to start eating chicken again.  They'll be plenty to get us to November or so, when we butcher either a steer or several goats, and have red meat again until spring.

My cooking varies so much with the season - spring is eggs, cheese, and veggies.  Quiche, frittata, we even had burritos with omelets instead of tortillas.  Pasta with asparagus, garlic scapes, peas, last year's sundried tomatoes.  Sauteed beet greens and mustard, kale salad, steamed snowpeas and radish pods, carrots, carrot salad, radish and carrot pickles.  Cheese in the pasta, in the eggs, in the salads, herbed goat cheese and crackers, just a chunk on a plate - you get the idea!  In the late summer, it's just different vegetables - tomatoes, squash, green beans, okra, cabbage, broccoli - with a steak or occasional burger.  

Winter is much heavier on the meat - roasts, meatloaf, spaghetti, steaks, etc. Vegetables drift towards the root ones - potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter radishes, carrots, beets - and the winter greens like kale, mustard, spinach, and  such.  These just happen to be loaded with all those vitamins we don't get otherwise in the winter, and are a nice change to the absent or canned-only summer veggies.  

I think most of us are also familiar with the way seasonally eating gives us the appropriate nutrients as well - light proteins and lots of green vitamins in the summer, and the red-meat protein and the dark green and colorful vitamins (red, orange, purple), plus the starches, in the winter when we need the extra boost.  

Grocery stores and the increased understanding of nutrition have taught us that we not only can, but should, eat everything all the time, but I've come to believe that's not really true.  It's true that oranges and orange juice have vitamin C, and milk has calcium.  But so do a lot of other things.  We don't eat oranges much, or drink any kind of juice.  Instead, we eat bell peppers and cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, kale, etc.  Did you know that one cup of kohlrabi has more than the daily requirements of vitamin C?  (Not to mention potassium, B vitamins, copper, manganese, and lots of others - but don't get me started on the wonders of kohlrabi - that'll be another post some day!).  We don't milk the goats in the winter, and in fact my kids don't care for drinking milk.  We eat figs (10 figs is a day's calcium for a kid!), brassicas, and lots of dark greens.  Did you know that 1 tablespoon of molasses has more calcium than 4 oz of cow's milk?  Cheese has less calcium than both spinach and collards!  And sesame seeds beat everything.   Basically, there are so many ways to get what we need, that we can get plenty by eating different things at different times.  We won't be deficient in anti-oxidants if we don't have fresh berries most of the year.  We have fruit in jam and dried - and anti-oxidants in other things!  Beets and purple carrots (and black rice for that matter) are the same color as berries, because they have the same things in them.  Not feeling obligated to buy things out of season, when I can't grow them, has really boosted our ability to supply our own food - and stretched our grocery dollars!  


healthy diet seasonally

I can attest to how healthy your kids are and how well they are growing. Nice to see it explained to clearly--great post.

Thanks! This is a topic that

Thanks! This is a topic that keeps manifesting itself as I work more and more at eating off our farm. There are so many aspects to it, I will probably touch on it again at some point :)

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