Fall surprised us all with a venture into winter earlier than anticipated, not only are the trees turning a crayon box of colors, the farm stands, and markets are bursting with hearty calorie-dense foods and savory immune-supporting roots. Fall is often our favorite time of year, and it means we are almost through with the long workdays, a time of slowing down and resting close to the woodstove is growing closer to hand.
For others; time is only growing in shorter supply as demands increase with school activities and longer work commute times due to weather. It is the lengthier hours inside, under florescent lighting that does a number on many folks’ immune systems. There is a reason this is thought of as cold and flu season. It isn’t that the wee bugs that stuff our nose, congest our chests or beat up our body are any worse – it is the environment of heating systems, dust mites, low vitamin status, poor nutrition, and sleep that are the biggest contributors to being caught by the local crud.
The modern industrial diet is ever increasing in calories through ultra processing; the difficulty is these calories do not come with better nutrition. For the first time in history, we have globally simultaneously overfed and undernourished populations. In 2006 the world population numbers of obese and overweight individuals overtook the underfed. The numbers have only continued to increase from the 2006 report of 1 Billion overweight and obese individuals.,  So what does this have to do with fall foods, farm markets and the flu season?
A lot…. Our health all begins with the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Without nutrients from the food we simply wouldn’t be able to support life, just as we need air and water to live. Many of you may believe the quality of processed food is good after all the label lists fat, carbohydrates, salt, protein, and even a few vitamins.
What you may not know is most of the label information is for show, the research done to develop labels and marketing to attract your eye, has even employed seasonal colors to lead to the perfect can of Nalley’s Chile ( seriously look and you will find the ultra-processed foods you select will change by the season and the colors on the package labels that catch your eye). This innate color hunting is hard-wired into our brains from the days of true hunter-gathering. 
When we turn this same eye from the packaged foods to the farmers market, we see acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and Hubbard squash. Spanish and winter yellow onions, shallots, and potatoes, yams, carrots, and beets. Now more than ever we have an opportunity to leave behind the industrial foods that are driving escalating chronic illness and turn to locally produced eggs, pork, beef, poultry and truckloads of produce.
The upside to locally produced foods like the winter squash is versatility and concentrated nutrition that improves our ability to fend off the crud. When we combine cooked squash with yellow onions, garlic, turmeric, and ginger for a warming soup or roasted, we increase the nutrient uptake to our cells through nutrient co-factoring, also called synergy.
But I don’t have time to cook like you do, one client said to me…..fortunately I didn’t say what I was thinking and took a more diplomatic line. We all have time crunches; the reality is while we had on average 1000 hours of free time more than generations in 1900, our time is fractured, and it requires more effort to shift from the rush and dash pace of today to have blocks of time large enough to plan and cook. I set aside 2-4 hours a week for food prepping for the workdays. With fall tossing all the leftover vegetables into a soup pot even allows for time to enjoy making sourdough rye bread. Soups and stews are the staples of traditional foods across the globe. And that includes the pot of chili and batch of Marinara sauce for spaghetti, lasagna or eggplant/chicken parmesan. I keep a bowl of parboiled red potatoes and cooked brown rice in the fridge for fast meals. I will even prep vegetables for stir-fry ahead of time.
Much of this can be done while catching up on the favorite TV program or doing laundry or other necessary home chores. After all, eating well to be healthy is a necessary chore!
Here is to the changing seasons and to Changing the Food we eat for our health.