What is food ? Food is the result of the union of sunlight, water, and earth. All the elements of the Universe (sun, moon, planets, and stars) come together to create food. It is a natural substance which maintains life and growth.
Plants are a part of the food chain. They are living organisms that absorb water and inorganic substances through there roots, and synthesize nutrients in there leaves by photosynthesis using the green pigment chlorophyll. Each plant exists for a specific purpose. It grows from a tiny seed to the fullest peak of its energy. At this point, it is capable of transferring all of its benefits be it nutritional or medicinal, to anyone who eats it.
We connect to the essence of food because we come from the same source, nature. In our genetic code, we have memory from many, many generations of how to use foods and herbs to sustain our bodies. Our bodies have the wisdom to process the food’s energy and use it for healing and nutritional balance.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the energy essence of food travels to and through specific energy pathways (meridians) in the body to heal particular organs. Through a deep connection to nature, ancient practitioners were able to perceive exactly how foods and herbs move in the body. They “saw” just how each one affects the body, mind and spirit.
Food energy transfer happens naturally within our bodies and between our body, mind, spirit and nature. So if we want to maximize the healing potential in food and be truly healthy, we must first find our balance. A balance which is different for each and every body. We turn to nature as our guide for finding and maintaining this balance needed for ultimate health.
Seasonal food is produce that is purchased and consumed around the time that it is harvested. Seasonal food is fresher, tastier and more nutritious than food consumed out of season. Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables that are allowed to ripen naturally and are consumed shortly after harvesting contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which protect against cancer and other serious diseases, than produce that has traveled long distances and has to sit on grocery store shelves for long periods of time. Fresh fruits and vegetables usually have a fuller flavor than food allowed to sit on shelves or in freezers at the supermarket.
Although we may like to eat cherries year round, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower shortly after harvest. Seasonal fruits and vegetables produced on Local Farms are often fresher, as they do not require long distances for transport.
Benefits of buying local:
Purchasing locally grown foods helps support local farms and maintains farmland and open space in your community.
Local food supports the local economy. The money you spend on products from local farmers and growers stays in the community and is reinvested with other local businesses. In addition, food grown locally, processed locally and distributed locally (for example, to local restaurants) generates jobs and subsequently helps stimulate local economies.
Most importantly, local growers can tell you how the food was grown. When you buy directly from farmers, you have the opportunity to ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about your food.
Most of the produce included in the Seasonal Food Guide can be found at your Local Farmers’ Market, through local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs operating in your area and at restaurants and businesses committed to seasonal, local food.
Seasonal eating is a key part of TCM diet and nutrition and it is a bit more than just eating your seasonal farmers market’s produce.
According to TCM philosophies, if we consume seasonal foods that are similar in nature to the external environment, we remain in harmony with the environment, adapt better to changes in season and stay healthy.
According to the theories of TCM, like medicine, food also has inherent properties which can be used to adjust the qi and blood circulation of viscera (lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, stomach). The diet is used for health preserving. According to taste, food falls into five categories of sour, bitter, salty, sweet, and spicy, corresponding to the five viscera which correlates to the five elements of water, earth, metal, wood, and fire. Seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall, and the first 18 days between each season (fifth season) are also correlated with each viscera, taste, and element. According to the Five Element Theory, the season of summer, the taste of bitter, the heart, the emotion of joy, and heat fall under the element of fire. While one of the Heart’s physical functions is to pump blood, its deepest function controls all mental activity, memory, feelings, sleep, as well as the psychic and conscious mind. The Heart’s primary function is to be joyful and peaceful, and connect to the unconditional love of the Universe. TCM regards the heart as a central processor. It serves as the gathering place where consciousness, mind, qi, feelings, and emotions must go through. It also provides a direct link with nature.
Nature for Good Health:
The body naturally looks to nature for care. Nature takes into consideration the season, environment, constitution, and climate when determining the balance for ultimate health and healing. Although different perspectives, western and eastern culture both agree that seasonal eating is beneficial for balancing the body for good health and healing. Whether it be a needed lifestyle change, weight loss, sickness, or disease, a balanced diet is crucial for success.
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