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Seasonal Eating For Your Health And The Environment.

The arrival of the beautiful autumn weather is a great reminder of the importance of eating within the seasons for optimum health and wellness.

Seasonal foods offer a natural diversity that we should take advantage of when eating primal for both our health and the health of our planet.  I don’t think there is anything better than picking a fresh tomato off the vine and eating it there and then.  When you first take a bite into the tomato, wow the flavour is intense.  What about picking an apple off the tree, and you hear the crunch with your first bite. Oh my, I wish I saved my apples and not passed them onto our pigs (it will be returned to us with sweet pork crackling)

Next time you’re at the supermarket, take notice off what’s available in their fresh produce section.  You will find a large assortment of fruit and vegetables available all year round which are not in season.  To the supermarkets they offer convenience by providing the same foods, all year round.  It allows you to purchase whatever you want whenever you want, however does it provide you with all the vitamins and nutrients you need?

Primal Living Tasmania growing seasonal

Growing Queensland Blue

To keep the fruit and vegetables looking saleable in grocery stores many of these out of season non-organic foods depend on waxes, chemicals and preservatives to make them look fresh and tastier than they’re . Unfortunately these foods are only produced for long shelf life, rather than seasonality and flavour.

Before I moved to Bruny Island whereby I am now fortunate enough to grow all our food seasonally, I was shopping at our local farmers market each Sunday.  There are many benefits when you head to the farmers market;

1: Talking directly with the farmer who grows your food
2: The connection you gain with the food which goes on your plate
3: The enjoyment of eating food which has been harvested days before

Let’s look at the benefits seasonal eating has on our health and the environment.

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1. Health Benefits

Eating seasonal foods will help support your body by providing you with diversity.  You can enjoy a large range of different foods, which can help achieve optimal health.  When choosing to eat seasonal, you’re eating foods that are picked at the peak of their freshness and thus offer higher nutritional content than that of out of season, un ripen fruits and vegetables.

The diverse range of fresh fruit and vegetables will benefit your body by providing you with a wide range of important vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals.  Everything you need to obtain vibrant health.

You’re also supporting your own body’s natural detox abilities.  For example; winter foods offers more soups, curries and slow cooked meals, whereby you may be using bone broth as your base.  Bone broths help support your immune system by offering a large range of important minerals such as magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.

Come spring time and this is the time to taste leafy greens and vegetables such as spring onions, spring garlic and dandelion greens which are all fantastic to help detoxify your liver and cleanse your blood.

When foods are eaten out of season, we miss out on eating food at its prime – when it tastes best and has a higher nutritional value.  When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste.  Transported food needs to be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t rot during the transportation.  This affects the ripening stage, because they are taken out of their natural environment too soon and the produce does not develop full flavour.

Foods that are chilled and shipped lose flavour at every step of the way – chilling cuts their flavour, transport cuts their flavour, being held in warehouses cuts their flavour.  It’s hard to be enthusiastic about eating five servings a day of flavourless fruits and vegetables and it’s even harder to get your children to be enthusiastic about it”. Susan Herrmann Loomis, owner of On Rue Tatin Cooking School

“If you harvest something early so that it can endure a long distance shipping experience, it’s not going to have the full complement of nutrients it might have had.  In addition, transporting produce sometimes requires irradiation (zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce, which is subsequently refrigerated during the trip” (Brian Halweil, author of “Eat Here: Home grown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket)

Eating seasonally you can experience eating whole foods that have not been processed or refined.  Fresh fruit, vegetables, unprocessed meat, allows your diet to be free of added sugars, salts, flavouring agents, preservatives and allows you to have a varied diet.  It helps to break out of the rut of buying the same foods all year round. You’re able to try  different vegetables, and can become excited every time a new food comes into season.

2. Sustainable Benefits

In Australia the two largest retailers, Coles and Woolworths, have almost 80% of the market share.  Supermarkets have huge buying power and can often source and sell produce at a cheaper rate than independent, family run grocery stores.  This is unfortunate because it pressures our farmers into providing cheaper produce, thus farmers sometimes have no choice but to turn to factory farming and other intensive farming practices that may cause environmental degradation.  Supporting organic farming, you are supporting the traditional and natural way of farming.  I also like the idea of ‘agro-ecologiacal farming’ this is a way of growing food that builds and strengthens, rather than destroying our ecosystems.

Another benefit of organic farming is, it helps to grow different varieties of plants that attract beneficial insects to help rid pest.  This is instead of spraying chemicals that you might be later ingesting.  Organic farmers use methods such as companion planting, crop rotation, the use of cover crops, natural pest control, hand weeding and animal grazing to help control invasive species

Another sustainable technique organic farmers integrate is planting legumes.  Planting legumes naturally helps to fix nitrogen in the soil, instead of applying fossil-fuel-based fertilisers to the soil, which can destroy the soils capacity to regenerate.

Supporting local, independent organic farmers you can help them maintain their high standard of farming practices such as: rotating crops to increase soil fertility (remember every nutrient you want to obtain from the fruit and vegetables you eat, starts within the soil) using integrated pest management to control pests and using beneficial insects instead of toxic pesticides, which are all passed on to us the consumer by providing us and our families with healthier foods.

Since growing my own food, eating seasonally and implementing permaculture techniques I have noticed the difference in the foods I am eating. One that stands out is the taste and flavour.  I also having a greater understanding of how I am contributing to the health of our planet.  The non use of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides are not only protecting my own health, it is protecting the health of our planet, the health of the farm workers and providing us with far superior products that offers better taste, quality and nutritional benefits over conventionally, out of season foods.

Primal Living Tas

3. Environmental Benefits

It is vary rare I ever need to go to the supermarket, but this one occasion I was having a dinner party and needed lemons (pre island life).  I walked into the supermarket, picked up the lemon, looked at its sticker only to find it had come all the way from USA (I wish I had a neighbour I could forage off). Eating with the seasons and purchasing local foods helps to protect our planet because it reduces the number of food miles your food has to travel before it reaches your plate. You are helping to cut back on the amount of fuel used that reduces pollution.

By making a conscious choice to purchase organic, seasonal, and local foods we help protect our water, air, and land and helps us to connect back to where our food comes from.

4. Economic Benefits

Every Sunday when I walked out of the farmers market, not only did I walk out with at least three to four bags full of the freshest, tastiest produce, I actually had change left over in my pocket.  I could buy a huge amount of seasonal produce, which included meat for under $50, that shop would last a week and feed two people. Compare that with supermarket shopping, one to two bags, not even filled to the brim with no money left.  Buying seasonal, local organic grown foods you help provide financial support to the farmers in your area, which has a flow on effect of growing our local economy. You will also find seasonal foods are priced much more economically than out of season foods which will save you money on your grocery bills.

Organic squash are starting to emerge.

How can you and your family eat seasonally?

We may not be able to eat seasonally and local 100% of the time but we can aim to do our best.  The first thing you can do is start with your own home.  If you have a front or back yard with lawn you can grow and pick your own food.  Actually if you have concrete you can grow food with a no dig garden (more on that in another post).

You can have total control on what went into growing your own food and you can enjoy them at their peak the day of harvest.  Now I am becoming excited for you!  Growing your own food allows you to reduce your food miles to ‘food hop, skip and jump’ (Well I feel like doing that, because I am always excited to be out in my food garden and see what I can enjoy).  It reduces your contribution to climate change, enables you to eat seasonally, reduces the money you need to spend on food and gives you a greater connection with how food is grown. WIN!!

I am fortunate enough to have eight chooks, so if you can do this, I highly recommend bringing chooks into your home.  They will (hopefully) provide you with daily free range eggs and help reduce your waste by eating your food scraps.

Don’t like gardening?:

Visit your local farmers markets.  Here is a great website to check out  which list all the farmers markets around Australia.  Visiting your local farmers market will motivate you to buy seasonal natural whole foods,  free from packaging, healthier for you and has a much lower environmental impact.

You could also join a community supported agriculture farm (CSA), become involved in a school garden, or start your own community garden.  I am now a supporter for Tasmania and The Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network which helps connect community gardeners around Australia.  You can find out more here

What are you waiting for?  Determine what’s in season right now and get your hands dirty.  You’ll be rewarded with high quality produce, packed with superior nutrition, at a lower cost and a great sense of self – satisfaction.

I’m off now to go and cook up a chicken and pumpkin curry with my Queensland blue pumpkins.  I’ll Leave you with a look at what’s in season for autumn.

Vegetables-artichoke-asian

Primal Living Tasmania Autumn Seasonal Eating Guide

I would love to hear what foods you have growing in your back yard and your favourite time of year for fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

Happy hunting, foraging, harvesting and gardening.

 

 

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The Sea Change Move – I chased my dream

What an amazing twelve months and how quick time flies when you’re having fun.  Twelve months ago my partner and I were living in an inner city two bedroom apartment.  Perfect location, coffee shop around the corner, farmer’s market 200 metre’s down the road, easy access to the local supermarket and five minute walking distance to the fashion stores.  Why would any one want to move from a place where everything was easy access?

I’ll tell you why.  I was craving the land, I wanted to grow all my own food and raise our own animals to eat. I wanted to have a connection of where my food was coming from.   I wanted to be out in nature more, to be fully self-sufficient, to learn everything I possibly can about permaculture and fully emerge myself into primal Living.

My partner and I (his name is Andrew) I should tell you that because I think you will read a lot more about him in the future, viewed many places before we purchased here on Bruny Island.  For those of you familiar to Tasmania, we looked at properties in the areas of Cygnet, Huonville and Woodbridge before coming across our new home; A gorgeous house sitting on 10 acres on Bruny Island.

The house ticked all of our boxes. Andrew (AKA primal man) and I are now living off the grid.  We Generate our own power by a wind turbine and 6 solar panels.  The solar panels are 1.4kw and run of a 24V battery system.  This means we have a 3kw invertor that allows us 3000w to use at anyone time.

If for some reason we run out of power (it can happen if mother nature does not provide us with wind and sun) we can use a 6 kVA petrol powered generator.  I do feel like we are cheating the system, so to speak!

We capture our own water and have a Biolytix BioPod Wasterwater Treatement System.   A what you ask?  The BioPod uses patented biological filtration technology relying on a diverse ecosystem of micro and macro organisms such as earthworms to provide energy-efficient treatment of household wastewater to a high standard.  The heating is provided by gas and a big gorgeous wood heater.

So I went from an apartment with no land to 10 acres…..Scary stuff right.  I had no idea about gardening, but with a lot of help from our amazing neighbours, the community, reading books and good old Google we have managed to grow all our own fruit and vegetables since we moved here in June 2013.  I know many can relate to me here, how good does it feel to walk out into your own backyard and harvest your next meal from the garden and to know you’re receiving the best of nutrients due to eat seasonally.  Oh how things have changed, the days are long gone from when I wanted to go and make an appointment to have my nails done, now I would rather ‘treat’ them in a pile of sheep shit.

Not only has the gardening been a learning curve, so has power consumption.   Before we moved here we had plenty of research to do.  We needed to find out what chewed up the most power and what we can do, to be more energy efficient.   Looking back on our old electricity bills it showed we were using on average 43kw a day.  That doesn’t seem a lot, does it? Now we run on average 3 – 4.5kw a day!  That’s a dramatic reduction, unbelievable and this is all done by living off the grid, and making a few changes in our household.

Remember when I said we have 3000w at anyone time to use,  listed below are some of the changes we made to reduce energy consumption.

  1. The kettle: First we got rid of the kettle.   Every time we turned the kettle on, it would use 1800w. We swapped it over to a gas kettle and we use the top of our wood heater.
  2. The fridge:  Living in the city we had this massive fridge, which used 460kw per year. For two people it was too big for us, and the majority of the time it was only half full.  We down sized to a medium size fridge, which uses 320kw per year.  That’s a huge difference and the best thing is, our medium size fridge is completely full with delicious jars of fermented vegetables.
  3. The washing machine:  Is a front loader, which we kept from our old home.  However instead of running each cycle for one hour and ten, it now runs for 40 minutes.  That in it self makes a huge difference to power usage.
  4. The microwave: The microwave is hardly used.  The jury is still out on the effects a microwave has on our health, so I tend not to use it and we re-heat most things on or in the stove and/or under the grill.
  5. Water:  I tend to be a bit of a control freak when it comes to our water consumption.  As we have on demand gas, we need to wait until the water heats up.  It dosen’t take very long, however whilst waiting we nearly capture ½ a bucket full of cold water. I use this water on the garden, especially the seedlings I have growing in the hot house. The water from the shower is captured and that to goes into the garden. Next time you’re standing at your kitchen sink, time how long it takes for the water to heat up, and see how much you capture.  I think you will be surprised.
  6. House lights:  When we first moved in, the lights were energy efficient 20w fluorescent globes.  We replaced them with 5 and 10 watt LED.  We have more lights on for the same amount of energy.
  7. Plasma TV: Our household has only one television.   We don’t watch a lot of TV, on average 7 hours a week.  The plasma uses 460w per hour, however it only uses its maximum on a white snow screen.  For example; if I am watching snow sports where the background is all white, than it is drawing the maximum power.   Plasma’s power consumption fluctuates up and down, we also turned the brightness  down which adjusted the energy consumption from dynamic (using more power) to conservative; not so bright but saving energy.  Comparing a plasma  with a LED – An LED draws 200w an hour consistently, It doesn’t fluctuate.
  8. Power points:  I ensure all power points are turned off.  And all appliances are not left on standby.  This is another great way to save energy.
Solar and wind turbine

Solar and wind turbine

Nine Months On

We love it here on the island.  We now have three pigs, eight chooks, two naughty Burmese kittens named Kimchi and Pedro and an abundance of wildlife.  My health has improved immensely (more on that later) I am learning so much about organic gardening, permaculture and getting my hands dirty.  It is a wonderful feeling to be able to eat seasonally straight from the garden to live self sufficiently and to be doing my bit for the environment.

From gardening, to raising pigs and chooks, to power consumption and toxic free living, the last twelve months has been a  big learning curve, with a few tears and maybe small tantrums alone the way.  However I am very excited to be able to blog about my life here on the Primal Living Farm and share all of it with you.  From Bruny Island and the Primal Living Farm we hope you join us and enjoy the ride!

free range chickens

Free range Bruny Island pigs

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