Introducing “In Season Seattle” — A Manifesto — Food, Health, and Conscious Eating

by Dr. Aron Choi and Chef Heidi Nellessen

Food is not just fuel. Food is about family, food is about community, food is about identity. And we nourish all those things when we eat well. — Michael Pollan
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

The longer you scroll through your social media feed, the more you feel like everyone else is winning at health and fitness. You feel like the only way you can be worthy is if you buy all organic superfoods and restrict yourself to eating “clean,” do everything your Instagram fitness idols do, or “cleanse” yourself to oblivion in order to lose weight, get ripped, or get that body you want.

There is an insidious message in health and fitness advice that suggests that you are not good enough — not fit enough, not eating clean enough, not pretty enough, or not muscular enough.

It can be overwhelming doing a Google search to figure out how to fix your health problem, the fastest way to burn fat, or to get ripped.

You end up swimming in a sea of listicles — “10 Best Foods for Bulking” or “5 Super Foods You MUST Eat!” “101 Reasons to Eat Kale.”

How much of it is hype and how much is true?
What is true for me?
Who’s opinion do I listen to?
Ugh! Information overload!

And much of the information is so superficial that you are left not knowing how to actually implement anything. You can only nod in agreement or feel crappy about yourself because you don’t know what kombucha is or if your hamburger was grass-fed or not.

Then you are left to your own devices eating kale till you turn green or eating bland chicken and broccoli 6 days a week for fear that slice of bread will go straight to your butt.

Patients with chronic digestive issues tell me things like, “I have eliminated sugar, eggs, dairy, gluten, nightshades, corn, soy, wheat, water, AND air. I don’t even know what to eat any more!”

There is something seriously wrong either with our food or how we are eating, or both, that has our bodies inflamed, leaky, and out of balance.

Once you begin to realize that the answers do not lie in that Instagram post or that listicle, you can begin to start asking different questions.

What is healthy food?
Where do I find it?
Who is producing it?
How is it made?
How can I prepare this food so it tastes delicious AND makes me feel damn good?

These are questions that we have been asking ourselves, and we are on a mission to get some answers.

We are fortunate to live on the West Coast, and in particular Seattle, where you can get any type of coffee you desire or go to any number of restaurants and grocery stores that sell high quality food that has not been put through the industrial ringer.

We are on a mission to learn from the experts — the farmers, chefs, craftspeople, and masters.

We do not claim to know it all, and you should run from those who claim to.

Let’s become conscious eaters together.

It all shifted when we got tired of talking about the keto diet and having to constantly unpack this loaded term. There were so many misconceptions about what keto is and what it isn’t. It was clear that a ketogenic diet is often misunderstood by fitness experts, doctors, nutritionists, and the public alike.

We tired of conversations about the tactics rather than the important values and principles that set a real foundation for lasting health and happiness.

Yes, there are some truths embedded in the ketogenic diet, which I have experimented with and subscribe to.

However, the truth gets buried in the tactics and not everyone needs or wants to count macros or eat proportionally large amounts of fat or to give up chocolate croissants and birthday cake forever.

There is something more fundamental that needs to be addressed.

The more we discussed what was important to us, the more we realized that we got FIRED UP about the issues that are affecting our families, friends, and community.

What role do traditional foods play in our health?
Does “organic” always mean better or healthier?
Where can we get produce that hasn’t spent a week on a truck before getting to the grocery store?
What role does seasonality play on nutrient density and flavor?
Where can I get the best vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and mushrooms?
What does fair trade mean and does it matter?
What are the stories about the people selling products at the farmers markets?

We want to know the stories behind our food.

That is why we are creating In Season Seattle, our attempt to tell the story behind our food.

Why call it “In Season Seattle”?

Photo by Sarah Brink on Unsplash

We believe that we have lost touch with how food is grown and the natural rhythms of our environment.

Each season has different feeling and energy.

Each season has a different affect on our bodies.

Each season provides unique gifts and flavors.

Each season differs depending on geography.

We are based in Seattle, so why not start with where we are?

In Season Seattle Values:

Any manifesto would not be complete with a statement of values. This is what we believe. Every now and then, we will evaluate if these are true for us. If not, we will change, just like the seasons.

We believe that healthy food can be fun and delicious. Food is not just something to get over with. It is exciting and a source of joy. There is joy in experiencing food — it is more than just fuel. There is joy in dreaming about mouth-watering, real food and deep satisfaction in creating nourishing meals.

Seasonality, our ecosystem, and our health are intertwined — there is wisdom in nature. Nourishing our environment and the other living creatures we share the Earth which creates nourishment in return.

We believe in educating ourselves and our friends and family about where our food comes from so we can make informed and intentional choices.

We believe that what you eat is just the white belt level (An idea inspired by Tero Isokauppila, founder of Four Sigmatic). How, where, when, and with whom you eat is as important if not more important.

We believe that food should be a source of nourishment, not stress.

We believe that if you are conscious about what you do, everything else will fall into place. Feeling guilty about “cheating” means that we are not making intentional choices in line with what really matters to us.

We believe in creating a relationship with food. Empowerment and intention come from understanding how food is grown, harvested, and prepared.

We believe that we can learn from each other.

We believe food can be a vehicle to facilitate empathy, connection, and community. Food provides you vitality to do the things you love doing — running, hiking, being with people you care about. Food brings people together during the holidays, to share ideas, and to celebrate life’s milestones. Food is kindling for adventure and experiences.

We believe that the goal of eating consciously is to be healthier and happier. Measuring, counting, and analyzing are a guide, not the destination.

We believe that when you eat whole foods, you automatically eat healthier without agonizing over the minutiae.

We believe that healthy eating lasts beyond a 30 day cleanse or reset. Slow and steady wins the race.

We believe in a way of eating that does not put one macronutrient above another. Good and bad is all relative depending on your goals, your dreams, and your individual biochemistry.

We believe food is vital information for our bodies. How you eat instructs your body how to respond to your environment — abundance or scarcity, stress or joy, balance or imbalance.

We believe you become what you eat. Quality is just as important as quantity.

We believe in being kind to yourself. Food is a reflection of the story you tell about yourself. Let food nourish you so you can be the best mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, or friend you can be.

We believe in keeping it simple through habits. Making fewer decisions about food conserves precious willpower. A healthy habit becomes discipline and discipline creates freedom.

We believe food does not have to fit into one box. Healthy eating is about being more intentional. When you are clear with your intentions, you will be free to make the best decision for you.

We believe in the process rather than achieving perfection. There will be exceptions to the rules. You might make mistakes and that is O.K.!

Which of these do you agree with? Disagree with it?

We would love to hear from you!

Follow In Season Seattle to follow our journey to find what is in season here in Seattle.

Click on the “clapping” hands if this resonates with you so others can find this article.