Goodbye Fall, Welcome Winter


Mackenzie Shaffer

Illustration by Preston Randall

Hello again, friend. I’m so glad you’re here. Fall is slowly fading away, and winter is gradually coming into focus. The leaves, once vibrant with color and ethereal shades, are making their way to the ground, leaving behind sparse skeleton trees and heavily used rakes. 

With winter quickly approaching, I’d like to talk with you about winter foods. Eating seasonally is something I’m trying to incorporate more into my life, but in addition to shopping for local, seasonal produce to support your community, eating seasonally reflects many other factors that benefit us. 

There are foods we can intentionally eat in the winter season to help with our digestion, our mental health and, of course, our community’s small business health. Eating seasonally is not only for the intention of supporting your local farmers but supporting all facets of your winter lifestyle. 

First things first, what vegetables are seasonal in the winter? Vegetables such as carrots, beets, potatoes and cabbage as well as fruits such as apples, pears, lemons and cranberries are all ripe for the picking during the winter season. Eating vegetables and fruits that grow during the season you’re in makes for fresher, more nutritious produce that your body and community will thank you for. 

If you’re lucky enough to be near a farmer’s market that continues to operate during the winter, definitely get in there and utilize the local produce available to you! If you live in Kent, the Haymaker Farmers’ Market is open year round and bursting with seasonal produce. Here’s a link to a more extensive list of seasonal fruits and veggies for your shopping pleasure. 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, warm foods are typically better for your digestive system, especially during the winter months when your metabolism slows due to the lower temperatures. Warm foods like soups, nourish bowls with cooked grains and vegetables, pastas and anything else you eat warm are all easier for your body to digest. 

Eating warm foods is a game changer for your digestion in the winter. On the same note, drinking hot liquids throughout the day can also help your digestion function optimally in the winter months. Try herbal teas, lemon water or even hot versions of your favorite iced coffee drinks. 

Folate-rich foods, including leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens, are very beneficial for those who tend to experience depression during the winter season. Studies show that individuals with depression tend to have lower levels of folate than those without, so bust out those salad tongs and get tossing! Here’s a link to some yummy winter salad ideas. 

In addition to folate, vitamin D plays a huge part in not only our immune systems but in our mood. Since the sun isn’t as prominent in the winter months and because oftentimes it’s too cold to go outside even if the sun is out, eating foods high in vitamin D is crucial to not becoming deficient. 

Fish such as salmon and tuna, mushrooms and various fortified foods (foods “inserted” with nutrients not naturally occurring in the food—in this case, vitamin D) are a few of the ways you can increase your vitamin D intake during the winter months. 

Eating seasonally doesn’t just mean eating foods that naturally grow during the current season. Eating seasonally can also mean taking the time to research and figure out what foods are going to impact you the most positively and then incorporating them into your lifestyle.

This winter, I hope you introduce more local, seasonal produce into your diet in addition to warmer foods for easier digestion and folate and vitamin D-rich foods for your mental health. Take care of yourself this winter, friend. Let’s talk again soon.