A Healthy Harvest in Every Season
When I think of a new year, a new season, or a new beginning, I cannot help but think of new opportunities for growth. As a gardener, I love how planning season turns into the planting and then harvesting seasons. Throughout my six decades of life, I’ve applied gardening wisdom to a few decisions of my everyday living so that I may bear much fruit in my midlife years and beyond.
Recently, I spent time reflecting and assessing my life, taking a closer look at where I’ve been and what I’ve done, and then considering where I want to go and what I want to do in the second half of my life. What do I keep, and what do I discard? What do I build on, and what do I plow under? Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds me that, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (KJV). My reflecting became intentional as I asked God to show me how He wants me to be fruitful in my next season of life.
Isn’t it just like our loving heavenly Father to provide evidence of His provision all around us? His presence can be fully noticed in the garden in every season. One area of my life where God shows me how to be fruitful is with my health. Eating naturally grown, seasonal garden foods–– the way God designed them––is a simple and sensible way to improve or maintain health and well-being. When we are well nourished, we will feel strong and energetic.
With scores of enticing advertisements for man-made foods and easily accessible and convenient prepackaged foods, it sometimes seems less complicated to overlook the goodness of God’s natural foods. In His wisdom, God gave us nutritional resources in every season. Each season bears its own fruit that provides necessary nutrients for our beautifully designed and created bodies. Let’s consider the value of each season’s offerings.
Spring’s foods bring a light, fresh, crisp, fragrant element to the menu. Fruits and berries in this season provide vitamins, minerals, water, and energy, which enhance the natural internal cleansing process. Greens, a traditional springtime food choice in most cultures, provide a refreshing, cooling, and cleansing effect to the body. Chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, is considered one of the most powerful healing and cleansing foods known to mankind.
Summer’s garden produce brings a cooling nature to your recipes and to your body. The sun- ripened, nutrient-rich, colorful, and fresh foods encourage a healthy lifestyle throughout summer’s hot days.
Autumn’s natural diet provides nutrient-dense foods that promote the efficient functioning of the entire body. This time of the year offers an opportunity for a seasonal cleanse to prepare your body for the heavier foods of the coming winter. Pungent foods (garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger) offer cleansing and strengthening properties that prepare the body for the coming colder season.
Historically, winter’s simple diet reflected the sparseness of the season. Much of the food eaten during winter came from the preparations made in the fall. Home-canned fruits and vegetables filled cellar shelves, ready to complement winter meals or snacks. Root crops were prepared frequently because they stored well, provided nutrient-dense flavor and blood thickening properties, and created inner warmth during the cold weather. Perhaps the traditions of winters past offer a lesson for our modern times.
I think our grandmothers were right all along: eating a variety of God’s wholesome foods provide the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, fiber, essential fatty acids, and healthy sugars and starches necessary to sustain and restore our bodies. Eating in-season foods pleases the senses and provides flavorful nutrition all year long.
As women reach midlife, they most likely notice changes in their bodies, energy levels, hormone imbalances, and metabolic rhythms. This is all the more reason we should strive to eat garden- fresh produce to supply our bodies with the necessary nutrients to thrive and be fruitful into our midlife years and beyond.
When we choose “close-to-nature” foods, we begin to support the normal functioning of all the body’s systems. The immune system becomes stronger to ward off infection. The digestive system easily and efficiently completes its processes, so nutrients get transported to their next destination. The circulatory, respiratory, and endocrine systems—down to your genetic expression—improve when your choices include nature’s seasonal, nutritional, and healing gifts. Every season presents gifts in one form or another––if we are wise enough to notice and accept them. Yes, I still find myself in an occasional struggle to maintain what I know brings optimal wellness and energy to my body, mind, and spirit. I have learned in my midlife years to seek simplicity in my dietary habits, so it is easier to maintain consistently. I strive daily to exercise the fruit of the Spirit of patience and self-control when making my wellness choices. In our hurry-up-pace of today’s world, it is often easier and quicker to “grab-and-go” with something to eat.
As a woman who is becoming older, wiser, and more patient and self-controlled, I feel a joyous privilege to share these fruits with other women who may be struggling in their life’s journey. When we treasure (value/honor/savor) the season we are in, we allow our heavenly Father to produce His fruit in us, even into our beautifully aging years.