KIOS: Eating, Part 17: Why Seasonal Eating Will Make You Happier

Cross-posted as:  KIOS: Parenting, Part 15: Why Seasonal Eating Will Help Your Child Abstain from Sexual Activity

This post is part of my series, “Kickin’ It Old Skool: Why and How We Are Old-Fashioned” or KIOS for short.  If you’re new to the series, please read my disclaimer before continuing on.  I’m keeping a table of contents to this series here so you can see what I’ve already written about and what more there is to come.

I just finished reading Happy Money: The Science of Smarter SpendingThe book has five main principles, which, if followed, will help you spend your way to greater happiness.*

One principle is, “Treat yourself.”  If you make something a treat, it’s much more likely to make you happy than if you allow yourself to have it all the time.  For example, if you love lattes, it’s better to buy regular coffee four days a week but allow yourself to have a latte on Fridays.  You’ll enjoy that latte much more than if you’d been drinking them all week.

As I was reading this, I realized that this means that Nik and I (and our kids) are probably much happier eating seasonally than if we just bought whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted it.

Because we don’t eat asparagus year-round, we are THRILLED when it appears on Ed’s table at the farmers’ market.  It makes me happy enough to blog about it!  Then we start eating it every week and near the end of the season, it’s become so commonplace that sometimes I don’t even buy it.  Blah, blah, blah, who cares about asparagus?

The same thing happens with tomatoes, sweet corn, zucchini, and plenty of other summer produce.  We’re so happy to start eating it but then it stops being a treat and pretty soon, we don’t even miss it when it’s gone.

Apples are available almost year-round and true to the “make it a treat” principle, I enjoy apples but never get excited about them.  Why should I?  I can have them whenever I want.  Cherries, plums, peaches on the other hand?  We’re thrilled when they start arriving in our fruit CSA.  We talk about them, dream about them, eagerly anticipate them.

We certainly didn’t start out eating seasonally to make ourselves happier but it’s a nice side effect!  It’s one more motivating factor to help us keep eating this way.

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In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver writes that it is fairly ridiculous of us as parents to expect our children to delay sexual activity when all their other desires are met instantly.  If they don’t have any practice in delaying any other kind of gratification, why should we expect them to say no to sexual desires?  She wonders if by eating seasonally (i.e. practicing delayed gratification), our children might also get some practice for delaying other desires, even sexual ones, resulting in healthier sexual experiences and perhaps, less teen pregnancies.  (Or something like that.  I haven’t been successful in tracking down the exact quote in my book.  So I’m writing from memory here, having read the book five years ago.)

I may be misquoting her a bit here but I think the idea is a valid and interesting one.  Sometimes Ellie asks me for cherries (her absolute favorite fruit) and I tell her, “Not now, sweetie.  We have to wait until June when they come back into season!”

I hope that this discipline of waiting will serve her well in other areas of her life, including difficult decisions she will have to make as she matures.

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So there you have it – eating seasonally will make you happier and help your kids say no!

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So how would I put these principles into play if I lived in a place where I couldn’t get anything locally?  I wrote a full blog post about how I would get food if I lived where not much food was available locally.  But related to this concept, I’d choose somewhere close to me that did have seasons (i.e Washington state if I lived in Alaska) and eat according to their seasons.  So I’d only eat strawberries if they were in season in Washington, even if I wasn’t eating local strawberries.  Imperfect yes, but would still contribute to happiness and internal discipline!

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*It’s an interesting book: an easy quick read with easily understandable principles. It was nice to see that Nik and I are doing many things right, in terms of how we spend our money relative to personal happiness. It also has solidified our resolve to not have a TV and that it’s better for us to spend our money on travel (experiences) rather than stuff through out the year.

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3 Responses to KIOS: Eating, Part 17: Why Seasonal Eating Will Make You Happier

  1. Sepideh Miller says:

    Someone who shall remain nameless threw the type of fit that only toddlers can throw because we could not have watermelon. I tried to explain the concept of seasons. It didn’t work out for me.

    • Laura says:

      Someone else who shall remain nameless isn’t prone to throwing tantrums related to food otherwise, I’m sure that would happen at our house too! 🙂 (The tantrums are just triggered by other things…)

  2. Pingback: Recipe: Peas and Prosciutto (our favorite meal of the year!) | Salmon and Souvlaki

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