As the days get shorter and cooler, the autumn or fall is a time to prepare your body for the seasonal changes ahead. Eating seasonal food is so important for our bodies and our minds.
In Mallorca, where I work as a raw plant-based chef onboard a racer cruiser, most of the yachts have finished their seasons and are now back in the ports preparing for the winter, whether that means doing a crossing over to the Caribbean or down to the Seychelles, or staying in the Mediterranean.
Autumn is a time when the crew can have some down time or take a holiday. It is a time for the crew to recover from their season and take time for themselves rather than being on call for the owners or guests 24/7.
Savouring seasonal fruits and vegetables in autumn
At this time of year, persimmons, plums, pears and apples can all be used in amazing salads or desserts, or just eaten whole. They are seasonal fruits in autumn, replacing the sweet melons, peaches and nectarines that were in season in the summer.
We need to embrace the cooler days and evenings with warmer drinks like herbal teas and warmer meals, such as soups, warming salads, and roasted vegetable salads. If you’re wondering how you can warm up a salad, you can lightly sous vide it, so that it remains raw yet warmed.
Eating seasonally and locally
If you follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle, you learn all about the different ways our bodies need different kinds of food in different seasons. Sadly, we began to lose this use of seasonal fruit and vegetables when the large supermarkets took over from the regular fruit and vegetable shops.
Fortunately, in the last few years, farmers markets and deliveries of organic food boxes have become more prevalent because more and more people want to live healthy lifestyles. These all sell seasonal produce so that we can eat the nutrient-dense foods that our bodies require in each season, rather than those that have been picked unripe, packaged in a container, and shipped or flown to us from a different hemisphere.
Healthy foods, healthy crew
I am always teaching the crew which fruits and vegetables are available in season because there is no point in us serving berries that have been imported from the other side of the world. They have no flavour and are full of pesticides to keep them fresh for longer periods. Although we are in the hospitality industry to provide whatever our guests want with no expense spared, as a health-conscious chef, I believe in educating my crew, for their future.
After a box of Driscoll’s strawberries survived a 5-week cruise in the Caribbean only to look as perfect as when I bought them, I have banned buying from that company even for my guests. We all need to consider our futures and by that, I mean leading a healthy lifestyle, eating the best food we can and leaving behind processed foods, in favour of healthy organic whole foods, including local seasonal fruits and vegetables.
The benefits of buying organic locally grown food
Given the fact that we get one chance at living on this fragile planet, we should make sure we look after ourselves the best we can. Maybe this means that I have to make more of an effort, but this is as important to me as buying local organic foods. Fortunately, we are well supplied with these at the small farmers markets and organic markets in Palma, Mallorca.
Maybe the produce doesn’t look shiny or it might not be the perfect shape, but that doesn’t matter. What matters most is the way it was grown without the use of harmful pesticides or fertilizers, in soil that is fed with organic matter, so that the most flavourful fruit and vegetables can be produced for us to enjoy.
I would much rather spend more money on organic, locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables than items that are flown in from the other side of the world. These might have perfect colouring and shapes but they have far fewer nutrients inside them. In a way, we are being bullied by the big conglomerates into buying exactly what they put on the shelves, rather than using our own common sense to buy and enjoy locally grown, seasonal produce.
Changing eating habits slowly
By giving the crew fully loaded, nutrient-dense meals, I am doing the best I can to help them on their journey to a healthy lifestyle whilst they are living onboard, and, by doing this, I know that they can learn and take onboard what should become part of their everyday lives.
So, when I growl at them as they open a can of fizzy drink, or eat more biscuits than they need to, it might not make them change their habits instantly but they are all slowly but surely learning about what is good and bad nutrition.
I even heard that one of my former crew members was asking about a dehydrator! That really made me realise that, even if nothing seemed to change when they were onboard, something must have clicked along the way.
Written by Polly Baptist
About the author
Working as a private yacht chef on racer cruiser sailing yachts for the past 25 plus years, Polly has seen a massive change in the industry and in the health of the crew on board! She has been a vegetarian chef since she started cooking and is now a plant based chef. She feels very strongly about food and its immense importance in our lives, and how our lifestyles dictate our health. Trained in plant based cuisine, nutrition and sports nutrition and she continues to study in these fields. Her training and experiences is as a private chef and she now also works counseling and teaching people how to have healthier lifestyles to gain health and longevity.