In commemoration of one of the most lively Sunday School discussions our ward has had in a good, long while (of which I was merely a spectator), I really felt drawn to address the topic of D&C 89's disclosure that "God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man...every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof" (vs. 10-11)
It's pretty typical, in my experience, for this specific verse to generate discussions about things such as the fact that we have available to us all year long "fresh" fruits and vegetables from every season thanks to 1) current methods of shipping, and 2) "modern preservation techniques" (D&C Student Manual).
But what if we're missing the point entirely? If you think about it, the WoW was given at a time when fruits and vegetables were already grown either in the home garden or at least nearby, with few exceptions (oranges, lemons, and maybe ginger, etc), and so it would not have needed to emphasize to the people the wisdom of eating locally. The diet of the day was already in harmony with the seasons with very little processing except for age-old traditions such as raw fermentation, which tended to only increase food value (ie. sauerkraut and other pickles, chutneys and preserves).
What if those verses of the Word of Wisdom are highlighting, for our benefit, that the Lord has deliberately provided the vegetables and fruits specific to our corresponding needs for each season and locality of the earth? What if the food, both indigenous and grow-able, in the area that you live is inherently suited to your requirements for health in that climate and season?
If so...talk of shipping freighters carrying New Zealand peaches to folks deep in a Minnesota winter would kind of negate the blessings we're after and, to be honest, so would most bottled fruit and veg. The exception to bottled fruits might include tomatoes. Italians have a long history of bottling tomatoes and it was recently suggested that this might actually increase the nutrition, compared to the severely devalued nutrition of other bottled goods. Instead of sterile canning, preservation by raw fermentation is making a big comeback, the likes of which our forebears would be proud.
I have a feeling that even with all our strides in the area of nutrition since the WoW was received, we haven't really begun to understand what the Lord understands about the food and the bodies He provided for us. Even just the idea that our microbiome - the world of intestinal organisms that lives within us and works for or against us and that makes up 90% of our cells - the idea that it changes from season to season and might influence the appropriateness of certain foods at certain times, is cutting edge science to us, yet our institutions aren't incentivized to do much research into it because of the lack of potential for profit. Those who work with wildlife know that the same bark a mule deer needs for survival in winter would likely kill it in summer. They know from past supplemental feeding programs not to give alfalfa hay to deer in winter because they'll find them dead with full stomachs, not having the right bacteria in their rumen at that time of the year to aid in digestion of what is an out-of-season food for them.
Maybe it's really simple: the things that are ripe at this time where you live are what your body needs right now. If you're reading this in June and you live in places like Utah, go out and pick some sugar snap peas and finish off that cleansing lettuce before it goes to seed. Let all the greens of the season cleanse your body of the heavier fare you relied on in late winter and early spring. And look forward to the days soon to come filled with pre-Vitamin A tomatoes and the peppers and eggplants (members of the solanine family) which will help defend you against the effects of the harsh, hot sun. And don't worry... the cabbage, Brussels sprouts, potatoes and the likes that are growing steadily right now will warm you in the crisp fall and on into the winter.
What say ye?