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  • Stevie Bee

We can eat anything all year round, but is that good for us?

Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus . . . Consider the seasons of the year, and what effects each of them produces — for they are not at all alike, but differ much from themselves in regard to their changes.

— Hippocrates, Greek physician of the Age of Pericles

We can get anything pretty much all year round. Food, that is. Mangoes, tomatoes, cherries — you name it — in the depths of winter: no problem. The supermarket shelves have them. But should we be eating anything we want anytime we want just because we can? Our ancestors had no choice; there was no refrigeration and no global trade. They ate what was around them. What else could they have done? Just because we have the means to transport fresh food from wherever doesn’t mean we ought to. For one, if it’s always available, how do we appreciate the joy of the new season of a particular fruit or vegetable? (This is less the case in the warmer months when fruit and veg are plentiful; come winter, though, it’s a different story.)

  • How do we stay in tune with the cycles of the Earth?

  • How do we balance the cold of winter with warming foods, and vice versa?

  • What happens to us when we eat cooling foods in winter, when we eat foods grown half-way around the world — or even from far north Queensland and the Northern Territory — shipped under-ripe to survive the journey?

  • Could one of the reasons we get sicker in winter — apart from less activity, more time indoors, less exposure to UVB rays — be eating foods inappropriate to the season, particularly ones that actually cool us in winter?

I think Hippocrates was spot on. Consider the seasons of the year . . . and, let food be thy medicine.

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