Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Eating like they Used To

About two months ago, I found a great article in NW Health Fall 2010, (ghc.org), about eating fresh produce. I used to be totally anal about this, but have since deteriorated - a lot. I thought I'd share some things from the article that impacted me enough to make some major changes in my family's eating habits.

Often, produce found in grocery stores has been picked long before it ripens (tomatoes are a classic example). "Fruits and vegetables glean their vitamins and minerals from nutrients in the soil and photosynthesis in the plant's leaves. The longer produce can ripen on the plant, the more vitamin-rich it becomes." Some produce has to ripen (like green beans) but even if picked fully ripe, full of nutrients, the time spent in transit likely depletes the available nutrients. This makes complete sense because freshly grown produce tastes significantly yummier than the alternative.

A study carried out recently by the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance stated: "organic produce was often not more expensive at the farmers market."

"Nutritionally, studies show that certified organic produce has essentially the same amounts of vitamins, sugars, fats, and protein as conventional produce." The main difference is that produce with the "organic" label have not been exposed to pesticides and herbicides.

Some local farmers are not certified organic (the process to become so is very expensive), but they still follow the rules of the certification. The article explains that "the only way to be sure of the care, harvest, and handling history of your food is to grow it yourself or find someone who can answer your questions." Talk to the local farmers at markets or produce managers at your local grocery stores.

One way to ensure fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables on your table is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The article sites two websites for local sources for CSAs: Sustainable Table at sustainabletable.org/shop.csa and Local Harvest at localharvest.org.

Since reading this short article, I have been making huge efforts to buy only locally grown or organic produce. It really hasn't been more expensive - but it has definitely been yummier. My kids love vegetables more than ever.

I think food is an important aspect of our lives. It is just silly to think that the food we eat (like Doritos... wow, yuck) doesn't have any lasting effect on our body's physiological makeup. I think it is worth the effort to eat fresh, whole foods as much as possible, every single day.

The difficulty for me is keeping my fridge stocked. We have to run to the store often. This becomes a problem on days like today when a snow storm has completely immobilized us. I guess that's when Doritos may come in handy. Um, no - they are still totally gross and totally nutrient-deficient and full of - hm, I don't know what.


iamwoman said...

I'm all for organic-- the trick for me is making sure it actually IS organic. We shop at carpinito brothers all the time-- I think it's closing for winter in a week though;( Otherwise-- I try to hit actual markets rather than safeway because it's overpriced and doesn't really seem fresh to me. Winter is when it's hard to do it.

Barb's blessings said...

About 5 weeks ago, I pulled out the last of my tomato plants, a cherry tomato. There were a lot of hard, really green tomatoes that had finished growing but had not ripened on the vine so I pulled them off and put them in a plastic cup and set them on the counter. Last week I looked in the cup and they had ripened just sitting there on the counter for 3 weeks. I thought, "so that's how the super markets do it." They actually didn't taste too bad.

It's good you feed your kids good wholesome food at home but don't make yourself crazy!

Love ya, AB

PS I hear you're coming for a visit in February? We may have a baby Noah by the time you get here.