What food for eating seasonally in Chinese tradition

(Last Updated on October 28, 2023 by Amiee)

Chinese people have a profound understanding of eating seasonally, surpassing that of any other country. Over two thousand years ago, the renowned educator Confucius emphasized the significance of seasonal food in the Analects, stating, “No seasonal food, no eating.”

As an agricultural nation, China’s ancient inhabitants possessed meticulous observation and a keen awareness of nature. They developed the concept of the twenty-four solar terms to guide agricultural activities, recognizing the importance of aligning with the natural rhythm. They understood that all living organisms, including animals and plants, must conform to nature in order to thrive and flourish.

To the ancients, the principle of seasonal eating was seemingly simple – consuming fruits, vegetables, and meat that were ripe and in season. This approach offers numerous benefits:

Maximum Nutrition and Exquisite Taste: Seasonal produce, unlike off-season counterparts, delivers exceptional flavor and optimal nutritional value. If you have ever tasted an off-season watermelon, you would appreciate the remarkable difference.

High Quality and Affordable: The abundance of locally produced, naturally ripened products allows people to acquire the finest food at a reasonable cost.

Environmental Sustainability: By avoiding long-distance transportation and off-season cultivation, adhering to seasonal eating contributes significantly to environmental conservation through low-carbon practices.

In the modern era, with industrialized production and long-distance transportation, people have become detached from the practice of eating seasonally.

Let us revive the ancient Chinese traditions by embracing a seasonal food guide.

Spring Food (January to March in the Lunar calendar):

Vegetables: Green pepper, bell pepper, onion, cauliflower, sweet peas, celery, lettuce, shepherd’s purse, rapeseed, spinach, Chinese toon, bamboo shoots, Malan head, bottle gourd, leek.

Summer Food (April to June in the Lunar calendar):

Vegetables: Loofah, bitter gourd, winter melon, kidney bean, asparagus, water bamboo, onion, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, amaranth, water spinach, lettuce, tomato, cabbage, eggplant.

Autumn Food (July to September in the Lunar calendar):

Vegetables: Okra, water chestnut, lotus root, pepper, chestnut, wax gourd, kidney beans, melon leaves, beans, yam, Chinese cabbage, lentils.

Winter Food(October to December in the Lunar calendar):

Vegetables: Green pepper, cabbage, onion, cauliflower, carrot, radish, sweet peas, celery, spinach, mustard, sunflower cabbage, lettuce.

By embracing the wisdom of our Chinese ancestors, we can once again savor the flavors and benefits of eating seasonally.



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