There is so much these days about diets and food supplementation, that I honestly think that we have lost sight of what food really is about. Today food is mostly seen as good or bad, fuel for the machine, or a scientific mixture of nutrients added together precisely to elicit a particular effect (bulk up or get lean). Everything we see is targeted at us on the basis of being a 'superfood', fat free, sugar free, enriched, fortified, low in calories, high protein, or a new scientific formula.
For all of the food products that are out there for us, before we get stuck into the macro-nutrient breakdown of the latest healthy breakfast cereal, a massive red flag should be that just about every food product out there is that they are available all year round. They don’t have seasons. For millions and thousands of years, we have been eating with the seasons. Eating with the seasons (i.e. eating the food that is currently being harvested), has got to be good for our health in terms of delivering different nutritions at different times of year, and in such an agriculturally rich country as Ireland, there is no reason why we would not keep a weekly batch of in-season vegetables in our basket to cook from.
And then there is the superfoods! What is a superfood anyway? For us in Ireland, a 'superfood' usually means something that has travelled from far across the sea to reach our shopping centre shelf and retails at a premium cost. Sweet potato's for example are a common 'superfood'. Most of the sweet potato's that we get in this country are from north or south America, we have little or no information about how they were grown, what was put on them or into them to help them grow, and by the time we get them the could be out of the ground for weeks and months, dried to within and inch of life and void most of the questionable nutrition that the poor superfood ever had to begin with. Compare this to a locally grown rooster or golden wonder potato. Straight out of the soil, produced by a local farmer who you could easily visit if you so wished. Your local potato has not travelled by air, land, or sea to your plate, and is infinitely fresher that its south American counterpart. The farmer will get a better deal for his produce, and your money goes back into the production of a quality vegetable instead of paying for a whittled sweet potato's air fair from the other side of the world. There is only one of those two option that are super in my own opinion, and its not the one that looks like it has been tangoed!
So what are some of the most commonly and locally available vegetables to us in Ireland that would fit well into a healthy diet? Here are a few that I can think off below. Instead of trying to source and cook exotic and expensive foods of questionable value, or force yourself into a strict and restrictive diet, why not stock up on local vegetable and produce and cook with it every week for a year and see what happens?
This article is by Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS.