September: Turning Inward, Getting Grounded

For many of us, September signals a return to routine and order in our lives. Vacations are wrapped up, kids go back to school, and the hustle of summer slows to a more tempered pace. Schedules become more consistent, and ever so slowly, we turn increasingly inward as the days grow shorter and the dark days of winter creep closer.

This shift in lifestyle and seasons carries over into our diet, too, especially if we are drawn to eating with the seasons. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and beans – the stars of summer– give way to root vegetables and starchier vegetables like beets, potatoes, squashes, pumpkins, and onions. These nutrient-dense veggies, higher in healthful carbohydrates and natural sugars, can provide a helpful energy lift during the fall and winter when our own energy levels tend to dip and drag. Summer berries are replaced with apples and pears, delicious storage fruits bursting with long-lasting energy. As our hours of available daylight wane, our bodies rely heavily on food and sleep for energy rather than the solar power we received from the summer’s sun.

We may also notice another round of cool-weather greens showing up at farmers’ markets and in our CSA deliveries, a timely opportunity to naturally detox our livers before we dive headfirst into the heavier, fattier foods that magically appear with winter (and especially the holidays). It’s not uncommon to feel drawn to cook again, sometimes after months of not wanting to be in the kitchen all summer. Take some time to notice how your desires and habits change with the onset of fall. What does your body want? What tastes especially delicious?

Whatever you do, I encourage you to get out and relish this beautiful season! Visit apple orchards or squash and pumpkin farms. One treasure we have in Minnesota is the Apple House in Victoria, part of the University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum. There you can browse dozens of varieties of Minnesota apples and hundreds of varieties of squash, all grown organically. Scout out some new delights and try a new recipe. While you’re there, take a walk through the arboretum and witness the spectacle of fall colors on display. The Apple House is open through the end of November: http://www.arboretum.umn.edu/applehouse.aspx

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