There is so much information about food, nutrition, diet, and health, that sometimes its easier to not worry about it, than to decipher this week’s controversy over chemicals in food, pesticides, GMO’s or factory farmed meats. Here, I want to make it simple for you to make good food choices, that are right for your health and your lifestyle. So, lets start at the top. Think of the absolute highest quality food with the most nutrition packed within it.
High Quality food generally would follow these common sense rules:
1. A plant that was grown from nutrient dense soil that has not been contaminated by toxic chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc) or genetically altered with genes from another organism (GMO).
2. A plant that was harvested at the peak of ripeness and consumed recently because as soon as the plant is picked it will lose nutrients over time (buying produce grown in other states or countries can be very old and may have lost much of their nutrients)
3. Animal products should come from healthy animals that live in sanitary and humane conditions, eating foods that they naturally eat (when animals are raised in factories, in poor sanitation, without sunlight, and consuming foods that they would not eat in nature, it causes animals to get fat and sick, thus requiring medications, antibiotics, supplements, and more. The animals are often given hormones to speed up their grown or milk production to have quicker turn over time, and more money for the farmer. These factors can also change the nutritive factors of the meat such as vitamins or omega 6 fats which are inflammatory)
4. Foods should be consumed in a way that is not damaging to the nutrients. (Burning food, processing food, adding sugar to foods all can change the body’s response to the nutrients in a negative way such as burning food can cause carcinogens and denaturing of protein, processing can strip nutrients, and sugar can block nutrients from being absorbed by the body)
5. The food that we consume should be sustainable. (This might sound “hippie dippy” but contamination of water, soil, and air due to farming and food processing is hurting all of us. We should grow a variety of foods, and raise diverse animals for food, keeping the ecosystem of nature in balance)
So, thats sounds easy right? Wrong! Think of all the food and beverage companies who would go out of business if we all started to eat by these 5 rules. We are bombarded by advertising, convenience, cost, and social barriers that keep us from these seemingly simply rules, and big corporations are counting on it. Think of all the restaurants that would have to close because the local organic food is too expensive. So what, oh what, do we do about it?
These next 5 tips are ways you can get quality food, without loosing your mind
1. Sign up at a local co-op, farm share or CSA (community supported agriculture) that provides organic food and pasture raised, free range, or grass fed animal products and eggs. Talk to them about their practices and pick one that you believe is offering you the best quality (By paying yearly, farms can count on your business and provide plenty of produce without worrying that it will go bad, and its picked fresh and often with great variety available)
2. Cook at home (Learn how to make quick easy meals from your fresh quality food, and you will experience freshness that no microwave dinner could ever give you.You will be able to slow cook, steam, or sauté your foods to ensure they loose as little of their nutrition as possible )
3. Buy organic. (Its likely that a farm share will not be able to provide your household with all of the food you need, year round, so supplementing from the store will likely be necessary, if not, you hit the jackpot of all farm shares and you should be psyched! So, when you are buying food at the store,or farmers market, stick to organic wherever you can afford to. When you are on a budget don’t be afraid of fresh frozen organic fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats. Sometimes you will also be able to find organic foods in bulk at box stores like Costco, so stock up and freeze it! Coupons are also available online or in the newspaper.
4. Grow food at home. (Sprouts are packed with nutrients and costs very little start, you just need seeds and a sprouting jar or container. Also growing fresh herbs is easy and year round and adds wonderful nutrition and delicious flavor to your food) During growing season you will be amazed what you can grow in your garden or even on the porch in a container. Beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes and squash are very easy and good to start off with. You can find low cost organic seeds online and ask your CSA or farm share about fertilizer, they will probably give you a great deal on compost and manure. Otheriwse, compost your vegetable scraps and make free compost that will really give your garden a boost)
5. Be part of the community and take action! (You don’t have to drive yourself crazy over this, and definitely don’t get stressed out over worrying you are not eating healthy enough. Use your energy for positive things like sharing your home grown or CSA produce with friends or neighbors, volunteer to start a community garden, share great deals you find on quality animal products and organic foods, take cooking classes on how to prepare these foods into delicious meals that you and your family will love)
I hope you enjoyed these tips and after reading them I hope you feel empowered to take charge of your food and your health! Stay positive and focus on what you want for your body. When you are full and nourished, there will be no room for junk :)