On the fall equinox, the length of day and night are equal, after which the days begin to get shorter. And if you are like me, it seems like the daylight hours shrink suddenly in one day — even though I know it is a process that is taking place gradually every day. I had this experience just the other day and, for me, that meant fall had really arrived.
In the fall, the weather becomes cooler and drier. It’s the time when the extremely watery fruits of summer give way to the drier carrots, potatoes, and seeds of all kinds — foods that stand little risk of freezing in comparison to the water-rich fruits and vegetables of summer.
If we tune into the natural changes in the world around us, we get clues about the best foods to eat during the fall. The cooler weather means we would do well with more energy concentrated, denser foods such as root vegetables (including garlic, onion, carrot, potato, sweet potato, and yam), as well as the dense above-ground squashes and gourds (including winter squash, acorn squash, and pumpkin); and the dry, energy-rich nuts and seeds (including walnuts and sunflower seeds) — all are among the fall’s best food choices.
Fall also bring us great smells from the kitchen as fresh raw summer salads are replaced with long simmering hot soups. The moist odors pouring forth from the kitchen provide a perfect balance for the cooler and drier fall nights and drier fall harvest. Traditionally, this is also the time for canning, drying, freezing and pickling of foods harvested in late summer and early fall and preserved for the winter months.
Of course, many foods are now accessible to us year round, but this doesn’t mean that we should ignore the natural passage of the seasons and not adapt our meal plan accordingly. It can also be fun to transition our meal plan to traditional autumn foods, and it can make us feel much more in touch with the seasonal transformation going on around us.
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