Times of Plenty

When Hugo’s French family were staying with us in the Autumn they commented that if they stayed much longer their cholesterol was going to go through the roof. Too much cream and butter and cheese and pastry and eggs and and ice cream and pasta and cakes and cookies and so forth they thought. We do not eat enormous portions in the summer but we do eat these home grown home made rich foods daily. Three times daily actually.

I don’t know much about cholesterol as I have never had that test but I thought about this for a while.

turkeys and geraldine

It is true that in the summer we do eat a diet rich in animal fats. So why am I not carrying more weight. How come I am so ridiculously healthy.

I think I know why. I only eat like that in the high summer. I do not eat processed foods so I eat a seasonal diet.  This is a more natural way of eating. Our bodies have not evolved fast enough to keep up with the changes in the modern diets. The continuous onslaught of processed fats and salts and sugars is not sustainable. So by keeping to a natural and seasonal diet the body does not panic and try to store so much for later.

In the summer I am milking the cow, and collecting heaps of eggs and using the milk and the eggs combined with the meat and vegetables I grow – I make piles of lovely food.   And my team and I work really hard in the summer. We need the extra calories. We need to eat the food that is available.  Summer is the time of plenty we need to eat that plenty up in preparation for the winter.

Now it is winter – I am not milking a cow with all the extra work that entails, so there is no rich creamy milk for butter and ice cream, and the chooks do not lay as well in the winter so I am not baking and the gardens are finished – I am not weeding and digging. So in the winter we eat  lean meats and dark leafy greens from the glasshouse (and whatever is stored in the pantry). I seldom drink milk. Our portions are even smaller because I am only working a little bit hard.  I don’t bake – I don’t even crave bread or honey. I am not as hungry. This is important too: when burning less calories we need less food.


So by eating seasonally, my rich diet is limited to only part of the year.  Not all of the year.  And what is available now is usually what my body needs now. The rich diet that scared the French family was only for a limited time. They should have stayed the whole year and gone through the lean months.

So I am thinking that rolling along with the seasons and allowing periods of change in our diets throughout the year is pretty good for the belly.  Times of plenty and Times of Less. Good for the environment and good for the belly! I love that word ‘belly’.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi

ps. This is just my diet. I don’t mean to sound preachy. I don’t force it on other members of my family. Our John eats whatever he wants whenever he wants to and joins me for my seasonal meals as well. So I do not mean to tell anyone how to be. We are all different.



91 Comments on “Times of Plenty

  1. you are right about seasonable diet….mine is the same all year round which is why i have too much blubber, and that is not healthy but at 77 years i just cannot be bothered to change diet..I only eat 3 meals a day, but they are identical everyday….i could fit in well with a seasonal diet, especially the time of plenty

  2. You are eating the way we were designed to eat, after all…. Human ingenuity discovered pickling, preserving, fermenting, salting and smoking, but there’s nothing clever or human about people stuffing themselves with trans fats, preservatives, stabilisers, anti-caking agents, palm oil, salt, sugar or MSG because that’s what processed food manufacturers think they can sell us instead of real food. You are better than most at listening to your hunger instead of your appetite, it’s a lost art!

  3. We eat pretty seasonally, as we are in Italy and seasonal food is loved IN its season. It is also less expensive. I have noticed that even when I go into the best vegetable vendor’s, if I choose what costs less it is also what is in season and what is local. The expensive choices are the ones that are shipped from Chile despite what time of year it is. We eat little processed food. We are ingredient readers and try to buy foods with as few ingredients as possible. It’s sort of a rule for dummies, but it works pretty well. You don’t sound preachy, you sound committed. And your commitment is inspiring. So I thank you.

  4. There’s a lot of debate about cholesterol and some scientists say that it’s completely misunderstood and there’s no such thing as bad cholesterol. In places like the Camargue, where duck and duck fat are food staples, people live to over a hundred without needing help from the doctor. I read an article recently that said cheap vegetable oils readily break down when heated and cause cancer, as opposed to lard, goose/duck fat, olive oil and rapeseed oil which do not:
    I’m sticking to the fat diet with lots of vegetables and no processed food – if it kills me I’ll die happy 😉

    • It seems to be a very modern concern. Rapeseed oil is canola oil I think? John uses that for his deep frying i think. I am an olive oil and avocado and grapeseed oil girl – I wonder if the other two are on the good oil list – I will check.. Your diet sounds like mine – DIVINE! // c

      • There’s only a problem in French cities now because they’ve become addicted to supermarkets and ready meals or cook in sauces. Those people living on fresh food and home made sauces are likely to be part of the French pardox, “That French people have a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease , while having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats.”

        • On 60 minutes, the news program, they did a story about how the Mafia is selling “counterfeit” olive oil with fake labels from reputable companies. Seed oils tinted with chlorophyll! Horrors. It is a billion dollar business for the mafia and they are trying hard to crack down on it, but it is difficult. It is possible that up to 80% of the olive oil imported to the US is not the real thing….

          • Kim the answer to that is yes, I do not trust big name Italian olive oils – I try to buy californian olive oil for eating – if I can find it – it is very good and not much more expensive .

        • French people tend to be a bit obsessive about cholesterol. Jock has a blocked carotid artery due to cholesterol, and he is a phatophobe. Evidently his body manufactures the stuff!
          Round here in dairy country, butter is NOT served with bread – You have to ask for it and I do!

          Eat whatever you fancy, but in moderation and in season. There, that’s the sum of my regime.

          ViV XoX

    • I remember reading an article years ago, that cholesterol is what the body converts to vitamin D, when you go out in the sun. The higher levels of cholesterol are due to everyone covering up more these days, or staying inside. It also explains why many people with cholesterol problems are better in the summer. Or so this theory went anyway! Cholesterol must be made by the body for some purpose?

  5. Hmmm .. maybe I would like the word belly more if I had less of one 🙂 I also find being dependant on grocery stores for my food means you buy unseasonal things at greater expense. I try to buy only what grows in a 100km radius, it helps a little, but not always practical. Sure makes sense to eat more for higher labour output. Laura

  6. Belly – that is a great word…. makes me grin at the thought of belly raspberries or belly kisses and babies giggles.

    As I work at a desk all day – I need to be on a continual winter diet, but temptation is my worst enemy. I am very weak when it comes to food!

  7. How strange. The French have always been known for their wonderful cuisine, much of it of a very high fat content. Although to be fair, even their supermarkets are filled with deliciously fresh, largely local, fruit and vegetables. Honestly, before commenting here, I read one of those annoying ‘super food’ articles on Yahoo. On top of avocados, birch water (!) and other weird and wonderfuls, BLACK PUDDING is now on the list. Full of calcium, potassium, iron and protein apparently! I shall make a point of telling our more faddy BandB guests this season!

  8. From what I’ve been told… cholesterol affects some people negatively and others not. In a similar fashion, some people have high blood pressure and others simply do not, regardless of how and what they eat. And from my viewing of your blog, yes, you are ‘ridiculously healthy’, but that doesn’t mean that cholesterol is not building up in your arteries. And if there is a history of heart problems in your family then it likely would be to your great benefit to have your cholesterol levels checked.
    Sounds to me as though you eat in a very healthy manner… wish I could. But I’m hungry all the time…lol.. summer or winter. However, I have had some thoughts that part of that may be because of the foods I eat and your explanation throws more weight to that thought. Apparently processed sugar is an addictive substance, so eating a little starts the cycle going… and the same could well be true of other processed foods. Maybe people really were a lot healthier when I was a kid, due mostly to the fact that we were stuck with local foods year round and, yes, in winter it could get a little boring but stuff was not filled with growth hormones, and gmo’s, etc., etc., etc. Definitely something to give more thought and research to. I don’t find you ‘preachy’ at all, Ms C… your perspective on different areas of life is most refreshing and always interesting. Hope you have a great day too! ~ Mame 🙂
    p.s. — what a fabulous colour blue your peacock is!

    • I won’t be having anything ‘checked out’ as I am determined to live my life without the aid of doctors. I am my own experiment remember?! Though If I do get terribly sick or start bleeding from the eyes or something – I will consult a doctor. But only as part of my team not a final word. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger – but i am sure you are good at drinking lots of water.. c

      • I had a routine cholesterol test (something to do with my age I suspect!) last year and the doctor described it as ‘interesting’! Apparently, it was reasonably high but then so was my ‘good’ cholesterol so they balanced each other out! No, I haven’t researched where good cholesterol is found! Stay well!

      • I hate water! heh heh having said that, it’s a good point to remember when feeling hungry and will test it out, thank you.
        I do subscribe to your thoughts about the medical profession on most counts. Spending a week in hospital last year confirmed it too, when they were successful in diagnosing a myriad of problems that mostly cleared up after I got well again. The body is a miraculous machine that has the ability to repair itself of many things if nurtured correctly. That is why I do stay away from doctors except for major problems that won’t go away.

        • Just quietly – I drink three pints of water every morning before I get up – I call it the “shower on the inside.”. wait 30 minutes before anything else. – even toothpaste – This is the secret recipe for ridiculously healthy.

          • Do you put lemon in it? My mother’s family all suffer from kidney stones. Mum religiously drinks lemon and water every morning, and so far she is the only one who hasn’t got stones. The acid dissolves them apparently. It’s also meant to be very good for lots of other things!

  9. I laughed and laughed at your reference to “belly.” I’m old enough to fondly remember The Kingston Trio and their funny song, “Zombie Jamboree.” Backs and bellies figure prominently in the chorus. And, yes: even as an urban dweller I can find local and seasonal food, and it’s worth the extra cost. In my parents’ time, being a “big butter and egg man” was an expression denoting prosperity, and there’s no question that a season rich in butter, eggs, and such is a time of riches.

  10. This is such a practical and wise post. We are Paleo people, but not in the sense of this new “fad” diet. Most of the foods that are touted as Paleo are not truly eating seasonal and locally grown foods. For instance, so many Paleo recipes include unsweetened coconut, coconut or almond milk, and various nuts and nut flours. Those are not naturally available in our area. These items are expensive and since it is difficult to find specialty items in our rural part of the state, so it ends up being an expensive lifestyle. I love your term, “Seasonal Meals”. I like the thought of eating only when one is hungry, and eating what is available naturally. I like knowing what I put into meals is healthy and natural. I love the seasonal work I do, and the way I feel. It’s a great life.

    • I think that you are designing your own diet. That is good. We will call it the sundog diet. A diet should be personal. The labels attached to diets are what annoy me – I feel I am being policed and that there are rules I HAVE to follow. The most important thing is to be thoughtful about what you eat. This is what I think – and you think too – especially with the wild component to your diet. It is a great life we have! c

      • Indeed! It is a great life. Sundog is a good name for a diet… sounds kind of carefree and happy! I hope this year, to have more walks to the river to learn more about woodland edibles. And just yesterday I was given permission to pick all the pecans I wanted from the pecan orchard!! YAY! I will be foraging and gathering… getting in touch with my inner squirrel!! Ha ha.

  11. Wise words Celi. Wise words. Good morning to you down there. Although it is FREEZING!!! up here the sun has come up and will loosen up the ice whiskers on our donkeys. My energy balance works in the reverse of yours. In the summer the work required for our donkeys is lighter. And we tend to eat lighter foods then. In the winter, there is shovelling and plowing and carting water and feed and mucking out barns more regularly. While inside the house stews, soups or chilli are simmering on the stovetop. Ready to line our bellies with warmth and the extra calories needed to head back out for more. Our bodies, if left to talk to us freely, really can tell us what we need. The trick for me … is to listen! 😉

    • Oh that carting of water! My winter muscles are fantastic and No way to show them off under all these clothes. Speaking of mucking out I had better get busy on that. Sheila is being lazy. I am lucky so far this winter I think. I am still able to feed my cows outside, so the cleaning of stalls is minimal.. Thank goodness.. Love to the donkeys! c

  12. You are very sensible and not preachy at all. we don’t eat processed food. That’s interesting what Mad said about the cooking oils. I always buy organic butter for a treat on toast and rapeseed oil to cook with. I do not like those spreadable tubs of god knows what! Mind you I do enjoy a nice meal out so my belly is getting bigger 😁 Middle age spread! Urgg!

    • I personally think that women need a little extra belly in their middle age, so as we grow older we do not become thin and wizened. I would hate to end up being a scrawny old lady!! c

      • Boo hoo! That is a picture of Me! Long and skinny, scrawny and wizened… but like my selective hearing I am blessed with selective reading too! 😉 Celi you never preach, you share. Constructive and wise sharing of information and that is why we return day by day.

        Alas I come from a long line of ‘heart conditions’ on my mother’s side. I have learned to listen to my body, I know when to seek help and when to stay quiet and rest. I eat as my mother taught me: A good mixed diet of home cooked food… remembering a little of what you fancy does you good, and to come away from the table feeling you could eat some more!

        Modern day life does not bode well for health,,, long hours sitting over hot computers, short stops for snack foods and coming home too tired to cook, thus calling in take-away meals. Joining a gym only works if you put in the hours. I prefer to put my effort into household chores and save the money.
        Right. Time for me to wash my dinner dishes so I start with a clean sheet in the morning. I’ll be back tomorrow for more advice!

        • That was what my mother always said too. Never stuff yourself at dinner. Having said that we would get a Smack if we did not eat ALL our dinner. Mixed Mum Messages. Ni Night!

          • Celi, the servings would not be American sized! We were told that if we did not finish our dinner (read lunch) we would have it again for our evening meal. Mind you mammy was a great cook, we never knew from day to day what we would have for dinner and the aroma wafting from the kitchen when you turned the key in the front door had you drooling.

  13. You are right – not just for humans but for us anipals as well. In the summer months, I play harder and eat more. Here in the winter, I kind of hibernate – play less, sleep more – eat less. It’s the way it is. XOXO – Bacon

  14. This makes me realize that we are actually eating seasonally too, with lots more bean dishes, and chicken soups and chilis now, and that most of the ingredients come from our farm. We never buy boxed or canned foods, and we have put up lots of veggies and pork and chickens. We feel fortunate to be able to eat this way! And due to this fairly mild winter (so far) we are still growing and harvesting, under row covers, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, leeks and kale. This is the first winter we have really extended the growing season in this way, and it’s wonderful! 🙂

    • I am so impressed with your winter foods.. our outside greens are just about done, it has been bellow freezing for a number of days and that pretty much puts paid to them, I don’t ind as we have the indoor garden.. but cauliflower! wow that is hard to grow! c

  15. as you know I am quite heavy, hubby is not, but last year the doctors decided at my age and weight that I needed a total checkup, something to do with not needing a doctors for ten years makes them think that I was sick and did not know it.. after every test they could check me for.. they gave me a clean bill of health, the specialist said.. 20 year old runners want your blood sugar results, I just do not really understand, an I said.. I know you will not believe me but its the farm..

    I truly believe that its the farm, as you know we grow and raise most of our own food

    • I absolutely agree – and thank you for going through all those tests to prove what I believe too – good clean food and good hard living makes for good clean blood and bodies. And also proves that the weight you are is the weight you should be. I am sure you fluctuate with the seasons too. You DO have to work harder to maintain that lovely rubenesque stature. But it is working. Your energy levels are high. And you are divinely healthy and proud of it – I hope you are proud of it! c

  16. I think, because your foods aren’t processed, they contain all the necessary bacteria and enzymes to break all that “bad stuff” down. Although, I don’t really believe the “bad stuff” is all that bad. A seasonal diet definitely keeps you from consuming mass quantities of it all year long! It sounds wonderful, the way you eat. I can’t wait to be there myself.

    • This spring will be magnificent for you – are you going to do any brooder chickens for the freezer? If you make a big cage that you can drag about this is a great way to get your gardens cleared! How are your quails? I will pop over and have a look.. c

      • The quails are doing well! We’re still trying to figure out if one of them is a boy masquerading as a girl.
        We are doing chickens for the freezer this spring! We’re going to build a chicken tractor and drag them around the yard to pasture them. I can’t wait to get it started!

        • YES – great – my chickens are the easiest meals I grow. You can get the chicks way before spring too. If you have a male quail you could incubate your eggs? Well done raising quails – they are known to be hard to raise.

          • We are definitely having some chicks shipped to us in February. I’m getting heritage breeds because they don’t have heart attacks from growing too fast and they pasture easier I’ve read.
            If we do have a male quail I will definitely incubate more. I’m actually incubating 4 eggs right now to see if he is male (checking for development). I’m really hoping he is male!

  17. I couldn’t agree with you more. I have no farm to grow my own but I’ll do the next best thing I can. You keep “teaching” . It’s not preaching!

  18. Few people here work like you do. Mostly, they sit behind a desk, tempted by the snack machines, convenience stores on every corner, the donut peddler who visits to make a buck, etc. Not to mention high caloric, sugary coffee concoctions.

  19. Sadly I live in the city with no chance of a garden so I eat processed probably 80% of my diet. One thing I never do is eat fast food. I buy Perdue chicken breasts and Laura’s beef –recently exposed as a lot less healthy than claimed. Ugh! I could scream. Farmers Markets come to the city in the summer though.

  20. seasonable is reasonable to me! I am not able to raise food as you do- but I shop at the Farmers market and so am able to eat seasonal foods.
    Working hard in the summer deserves some butter etc- plus when you know where your food is coming from it’s logical to feel free to eat those
    tasty delights with no twinge of guilt! Cheers!

  21. Margarine, as I understand it, is about one molecule away from plastic and they can keep it. The human is able to digest animal fats far better than the doctors would have you believe. Your body produces cholesterol anyway, even if you have only plant based foods. A cholesterol test only give a picture at that moment, just like your blood pressure, it changes during the day depending on what you’re doing, what you’re eating, etc. I think it’s far more important to avoid the chemicals that are added to almost everything and the hormones and antibiotics the animals are given which stay in the meat. You have to find what works for you. It would be wonderful if I had the room to grow a big vegetable patch and have chickens, maybe even a pig. There are some huge vegetable gardens in places in Chicago that used to be tenement houses, the neighborhood does the work and reaps the benefit of the fresh produce. Many of them grow organically too.

    • I think it is time for you and I to get together and work out how you can grow your own food down here.. if you have room for a freezer – you can grow your own pork and chickens and beef some years, here – then transfer them to your freezer. It is a relatively simple equation, with one or two trips down to pick up your meat. And one or two lunches along the way – . What do you think? c

      • I think it’s a great idea. And very much appreciated. I will email you as things are moving in unknown ways for me right now.

    • I couldn’t agree more, when my John was in hospital with his heart attack the dietitian came to visit, She was a bit taken aback when I asked her who on earth approved the food served to the patients – margarine, drinks with aspartame, toast made from squishy bread! All those chemicals cannot be good. I told her we ate ‘real’ food, pastured meats, free range chicken’s eggs, trying to avoid GMO food, seasonal or frozen veggies, cooking from scratch (using animal fats – gasp!) and she finally admitted that with his history he probably would’ve had heart issues a lot sooner on what passes for a conventional diet. We’re not saints, we still allow ourselves our little indulgences, life is too short to pass up the cookies! (Or Snickers bars – haha).

  22. *huge smile* Oh dear! Being a doctor and a still studying nutritionist of nearly 30 years I better not buy into today’s fascinating comments at length! But fully agree with ‘seasonal’ and ‘local’! And nothing from the central isles of a supermarket!! Personally have a hugely varied diet: mostly Asian, Mediterranean islands and Middle Eastern-Australian ‘fusion’. Some African. All healthiest and most fun!! I am afraid fully agree with Hugo’s family: no cream whatsoever, no butter, ice cream, anything made with pastry: cakes, biscuits, no frying or deep-frying etc a’tall, a’tall, a’tall! No desire for any of that!! But do love my one glass of milk a day! Like locally sourced olive and grapeseed oils. Canola bad especially in the US which allows GM [officially forbidden in Oz, tho’ I would not swear on it 🙂 ! ] Any form of sugar much worse than fat, tho’ DO keep away from trans-fats and any form of margarine! Some cholesterol necessary for nerve activity etc [and cholesterol IS cholesterol!] but that ingested not so important: what the liver makes out of the fats you eat is the dangerous one!! I did not say it: but please look up ‘statins’ on the Net ere you swallow one tablet!!! Horse meat great, as is kangaroo in Australia. Absolutely adore black pudding [a ‘national’ food in my birth country] but NO way can it ever be healthy with all that fat in it 🙂 ! Personally also sin with liver and tripe and kidneys on occasion but . . . Celi – the amount of physical work you do keeping your weight down etc works in your favour and seemingly you very much watch your portion size [my downfall] . . . also your wine consumption is a hugely positive factor . . . . OK, sorry, Eha did end up being ‘preachy’ but this is my area and passion . . .

  23. I highly recommend watching ‘That Sugar Film’ to everyone. You will never look at eating the same way again – although it seems that most of the members of the Farmy Fellowship eat very good diets anyway! I guess that is what brings us all here – good, local, sustainable food and way of life. Thanks Celi!

  24. C, why does everyone equate cholesterol to fat consumption……there is nothing wrong with good fats as part of a balanced diet. If you consume more food i.e. glucose for energy than your body can use you store the excess glucose as triacylglycerol which zips straight into your adipose tissues,(fat stores) for that rainy day when you may just need it or not as the case may be.

    • Came for a quick look rather late 🙂 ! I agree that good fats, for a variety of reasons, should still constitute about 25-30% of one’s daily diet: that basically omits saturated fats [no more than 10% of total suggested] and certainly the very dangerous trans- or hydrogenated fats. However cholesterol and fat consumption are very much related – as has been proven in many university studies, ingested cholesterol [eg that in a boiled or poached egg] forms a rather small proportion of the total cholesterol in the body compared to eating fats, as these are changed by the liver into excess cholesterol doing most of the harm. Reading the above it seems to me that many do not understand the bad v good cholesterol [ie LDL v HDL] importance . . . . personally I have a rather high 6+ reading but most of it is HDL virtually cancelling out the LDL present! Sugar is the dealbreaker . . . . and it is amazing to find all the places that turns up . . . . huge topic one as a layman can actually research pretty simply on sites such as ‘WebMD’.

  25. We grew up with a farm diet and simple foods for a reason: budget and time. Fresh veggies when in season (canned or frozen for winter). We had good lean meats. Not a lot of heavy cream sauces. Rarely processed foods (expensive). Lots of milk, though. Varied food choices, moderation, little sweets/sugar and don’t eat after 7 PM. Lots of outdoor exercise/work. Similar to what you do now.
    Astute to notice the seasonal influences. I’ve always gained weight July-Aug ( due to excessive heat and not able to do much outside without a swimming pool) and lost it during fall-winter. Whether it’s activity level or some ancient body recognition of the seasons, I don’t know. But I think you are right about this if people live a natural/non office box type life. (Office Florescent lights tend to tweak the body and confuse metabolisms).
    People and their body needs do vary so much due to genetics/heredity (like region where from/family lived) and just chemical make-up. What works for one won’t work for all – and it changes with age. (People forget that last part) Best to listen to your body and not fret about the “trends” and tests.
    Hope you are all snug and warm. We are worried about the dairy cows in the state that are struggling with excessive brutal cold…not really set up for that in this state.

  26. I like that you share your views just because, when so much elsehwhere is say for pay, and fame and fortune the name of the game. Seasonal eating, home cooking, everything in moderation and plain commonsense is tried and true even if it doesn’t necessarily sell books, videos and TV advertising & rights.

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