Jul 6

How to Source Food Well for the Most Nutrients – Part 2


This is the second of a 2 part series on sourcing healthy food, where I highlight the benefits of buying local foods:

Check out Part 1 which covered the the drawbacks of conventional organic.

 

LOCAL FOOD IS NUTRIENT DENSE

Did you know that researchers have discovered that the vitamin C content of broccoli is cut in half when it is shipped? When you purchase local there is less transit time, lessening the need for pesticides and chemicals for preservation. If you buy from a CSA (community supported agriculture) or farmer’s market your produce is typically only a day or two old. Since there is no shelf life you are getting a truly nutrient dense product.

CSA veggies are harvested the day before delivery

 

EATING SEASONALLY IS BETTER FOR YOUR HEALTH

Local food is often native to the area and it’s seasonal. Not only does eating seasonal taste better, it also provides your body the nutrients it needs at the time that it needs it. It isn’t just produce either. Even meat and eggs are seasonal. For instance:

  • Figs, which grow in the middle of summer, promote tanning instead of burning
  • Tubers and potatoes are more plentiful in the fall. They have nutrients needed to last you through winter.
  • Lettuce is plentiful in the spring when detox and shedding weight for summer is important.
  • Eggs are more plentiful in summer, when fat soluble vitamins are needed for healthful sun exposure.
  • Turkeys do better in in the fall. They are best harvested for Thankgiving.
  • Beef is usually harvested in spring.
  • The list is endless.

The more seasonal and varied your diet the more nutrients you consume.

 

BUYING LOCAL BUILDS COMMUNITY

Finally, supporting the “little guy” also supports your local economy and facilitates a sense of community. You know your growers they know and care about you. If you have a question or problem you know the source. This is probably the biggest benefit by far; buying local is being able to know and talk to your farmer. You can even visit their farm!

(At a farmer’s market or CSA you meet your farmer)

 

HOW DO I PRIORITIZE MY DOLLARS

I understand not everyone has the time or money to go the farmer’s market for all their needs. I am in that boat. Here is an easy way to start implementing local foods in your diet without breaking the bank:

  • When getting meats from the grocery, opt for lean meats. Fatty cuts are not bad for you. In fact they are chock full of vitamins necessary for optimal health. However, toxins are stored in fat. If you are not getting pastured, grass-fed and grass finished meat, then opt for lean.
  • Good meat can get costly, eat more veggies and less meat.
  • Join in a cow or pig share. If you have the freezer room this is the best option. You get all the good cuts at the price of ground meat.
  • Consider joining a local food co-op or CSA. In a CSA you sign up for a weekly portion of whatever the farmer has in season. This is an affordable option, usually about $30 for a weeks’ worth of the best produce. It gives the farmer a reliable customer base and it forces you to eat seasonally and experiment with new foods.
  • Avoid packaged food as much as possible, even if it says organic. These foods have zero nutrients. Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. Buying food in its natural form is healthier and cheaper.
  • Buy loose produce. Stay away from boxes or bags as much as possible to avoid inert gases and preservatives.
  • To stretch dollars at the famers market get what is in season, you will spend far less on produce. Fennel in season can be a dollar for a couple fronds, out of season it can be upwards of $5.
  • If you are short on time plan a once a month farmer’s market trip. Or share driving with a friend.
  • Eggs are one of the most nutrient dense choices out there. You can find many local places to buy truly pastured eggs for not much $. Be careful at the grocery, vegetarian fed = soy, pastured = access to pasture not necessarily time spent in the pasture.
  • Don’t be afraid! In the grocery organic is still better than conventional. Sometimes we just have to go with better instead of best. So be easy on yourself and just go for it 🙂

(A typical CSA costs about $30 and can feed a family of 4 for a week)

DO YOU BUY LOCAL? IF SO WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE FOODS AND TIPS?

 

RESOURCES

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Seasonal Food Guide

Locally Sourced Food Near You:

Index of pesticides allowed in organic agriculture