Ah, fall is here—busier schedules, cooler temperatures and, of course, the Jewish holidays.
For me, the holiday of Sukkot is the epitome of fall, my favorite season. I love the leaves on the trees in gorgeous reds, yellows, browns and every color in between; the feel of the chill in the air and all the delicious seasonal foods. Sukkot embodies it all, and as a harvest holiday, the foods we eat on Sukkot are meant to evoke the richness and abundance of the fall harvest.
I like to think of Sukkot as the Jewish calendar’s “eat local” poster child. We are celebrating the fruits of our labor (or our farmers’ labor) and enjoying all of the local, seasonal foods that are available.
Fruits and vegetables like honeycrisp apples, butternut squash, kale, carrots, chard and turnips are at their peak this season. One could argue that we eat these foods all year long. Because of modern food processing techniques and worldwide distribution of resources, most foods remain available year-round, and our grocery store shelves look pretty much the same in November as they do in mid-July. It is easy for us to forget about seasons when we eat.
But once upon a time, people ate certain foods only when they were harvested and readily available. Seasonal foods are a way of reconnecting with the organic cycle that nature intended for us. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Eating cooling fruits and veggies in the summer, such as watermelon, cucumbers and tomatoes has a cooling effect on the body. As the temperatures fall, and we settle in for winter, we crave warmer, more grounding foods such as winter squash and sweet potatoes.
By eating freshly harvested produce, you will be rotating your foods and reaping the health benefits of a diet that is diverse and naturally higher in vitamins and minerals.