Saturday, February 9, 2013

seasonal inclinations

The instinctual tendencies i observe in myself, concerning what foods i WANT to eat from one day to the next, are fascinating to me.  Here in the midst of winter with chilly temperatures but lengthening daylight, i seem to have lost a lot of interest in meat and starch, and my appetite is leading me in the direction of seafood.  Left to itself (with no media-invoked temptations to pursue commercial foods), would our "nutrient sensors" cause us to eat the appropriate seasonal diet?

I can only speculate, because i've never heard much that's very scientific about seasonal eating, except the advisability of consuming what's seasonally grown in one's own location, for different reasons.  I know that in the summer we grow muscle easily on protein and carbohydrate, and in the fall our endocrine systems urge us to put on fat to survive the upcoming winter (which never actually arrives for a lot of people).  But what are we SUPPOSED TO EAT, physiologically-speaking, in the winter?

Is it because the fresh green grass, which helped to load our meat-animals with vitamin K2 and omega-3 during the spring and summer, is no longer THEIR diet, that my appetite is leaning toward ... other things?  I'm not much on cravings, but when my appetite screams for a food, it generally means that food packs the nutrient my body wants -- like during the visit we made to VA last year when my body screamed for a big, very-rare steak ... then a nap.  My body KNOWS....  The last few days (since the last family-pack of GF ground beef got finished), it's been NUTS which sound good.  One day i'll eat an ounce or two of macadamias, the next day it might be pistachios and the following, cashews -- and these are not snacks, but a self-contained meal.

This is not to say that nuts are all i HAVE been eating (along with my wine/cocktail) -- the day before yesterday i made a new crockpot stew based on Julia Child's daube de boeuf Provence-style (LOVE the garlic-caper mixture to dollop on the finished bowl).  But i have NOT had the steak-craving that has been known to drive my meal plans.  OR ... is it because the liver i've been eating is SO full of similar nutrients that when a nutrient-calling happens, my appetite skips over steak to go straight to the powerhouse?  If the latter is the case, it points up a big flaw in the FRH -- steak is much higher on the palatability scale than liver is ... at least to me!

A really wonderful college English teacher one day called something to the attention of the class which has stuck with me ever since -- and that's been a LONG TIME.  ;-)  He pointed out the numerous songs and poems Britain's literature has which are paeons* to springtime, and frequently specific to May-time, tra la!  He described the medieval rural scene in winter -- small, smoky rooms without glass windows; dark, because before the kerosene (paraffin) lamp with glass chimney made decent lighting affordable, the working classes with their betty-lamps and tallow dips could not do as well as (expensive) candle-burning did; miserably damp, cold and muddy before the days of paving and india-rubber boots; eating a diet of progressively-less-appealing nature, which they were capable of storing through the winter....  Then he described how their world changed in spring, when they were able to open the shutters and fling the doors wide without excessive chill, the sun warmed everything and dried out the roads and encouraged things to grow (GREENS -- yummmm).  So no wonder they composed songs of happiness, huh?
Bullock sterteth, bucke verteth, merrye sing cuckoo!
...I guess it's apparent what we should be eating in the spring.

* yes, i KNOW that "paeon" actually describes a specific meter, but i'm using the word in the generic sense -- poetry.  ;-)


  1. I would be interested in some sort of study comparing folks cramped in a hut with kerosene, and folks in a snow cave with a roaring wood fire from time to time. I am intrigued by Dr. Kruse's uncovering of others' experiences in the cold, and am rethinking what was typical. I do know that February was starvation month. Not here, though. Things are bursting out all over. I do know that the first peoples lived by the beaches that I visit, and they wore very little clothing, if any.
    I find that I really crave seafood on deep CT days. I want it cold and/or raw, or right out of a can. Before starting CT in earnest, I wanted soup on cold days.

  2. INTERESTING! in historical situations, of course, what people COULD have was dictated by technology and financial situation. i wonder where one might find wintertime diaries that mention food LONGINGS (which is how i'd expect people to express the idea)....

  3. I think winter is the perfect time to eat spicy soups and fermented veggies,garlic everywher and something like polish Bigos (variety of meats and kielbasa cooked together with sauerkraut, cabbage and root vegetables.)