Do you make sure the food you are eating is good quality?
There are many reasons why it is important to make sure your food is organic, fresh, and local. Here are 4 reasons to make the extra effort.
Regardless if food is healthy or unhealthy; the most important thing is flavour. If food doesn’t taste good, we won’t eat it. This becomes a real problem as most conventional produce is tasteless! This is because grocery store food isn’t grown with flavour in mind; it is grown mostly considering yield, susceptibility to pests, as well as uniformity in shape, texture, and ripening time. Flavour isn’t even on the list of considered traits when growing conventional produce. If you have ever eaten a freshly picked, garden tomato, you know that it tastes nothing like a tomato from the grocery store. Fresh, local, and organically grown tomatoes are sweet, tender, and bursting with flavour, while grocery store tomatoes are generally hard and tasteless. When I get my hands on garden fresh carrots I could just sit there and eat a whole bag, but I could never do that with carrots I bought from a grocery store. When it comes to flavour, good quality food always wins. With most people buying conventional produce, it’s no wonder so many people don’t like vegetables anymore!
Similar to flavour, nutritional content is another important trait that is not considered when growing conventional food. The nutritional content in conventional food has actually been decreasing over the years due to selective breeding for desirable traits (such as yield, resistance to disease, uniform ripening time, etc.) and soil depletion. If the soil does not contain certain minerals, the plants will also lack these minerals. The soil used to grow crops is becoming more and more deficient in minerals that are essential to our health due to modern agriculture methods (source). Organically farmed food generally contains more nutrients because it relies on nutrient rich soil and compost to grow crops instead of chemical fertilizers. Local foods will also have higher nutritional value because, generally, the time it takes to reach you is shorter. The longer food sits around the more nutrients are lost; so the fresher the food, the higher the nutritional value. The best way to maximize your nutritional intake is by buying fresh, local, and organic produce and meat. Bonus points if you pick it from your own garden or raise/hunt it yourself!
3. Less Chemical Exposure
Local and organic groceries have far less chemical residues on them than conventional groceries. This is mainly because organic foods are grown or raised without the use of most pesticides, herbicides, or growth hormones. Non-organic produce is sprayed with preservatives so that it will keep through its transportation and storage before it hits the shelves at the grocery store. The more packaged a product is, the higher its chemical content. For example, a bag of non-organic lettuce has been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides during growth, sprayed with preservatives during transportation, and then more preservatives have been added to the final product to keep the product looking fresh and appealing. Similarly, meats are soaked in nitrates to preserve them and enhance color and flavor. Reducing your chemical exposure is a great way to support your liver, as it is your livers job to filter most toxins from the body. This can help balance hormones and improve skin as well as energy levels!
4. Reduced Inflammation
Meats from grain-fed animals cause inflammation in the body. This is because grains such as corn or barley are not a natural diet for animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens. The unnatural diet causes the meat from these animals to be a lot lower in omega 3 fatty acids. This is bad news because the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 is critical for anyone dealing with inflammation issues (which is most of us these days). Ideally, the ratio of omega 3 to 6 would be 1:1 or 1:2. However, in the standard american diet (which includes grain-fed meat) the ratio is around 1:16 (source). Having insufficient amounts of omega 3 to balance the omega 6 causes inflammation in the body. Even if you don’t have any serious inflammation issues, balancing your omega 3 to 6 ratio can improve your skin and digestion, support your brain, and prevent future chronic inflammation issues such as arthritis.
Another big one to watch out for is vegetable oils such as soybean oil added to products. These oils are also high in omega 6 and cause inflammation even though they were once considered a healthy alternative to saturated fats. Low quality foods such as potato chips and other salty snacks are notoriously bad for containing these oils. Be wary of vegan products marketed as healthy such as vegan butters as they are usually made with soy and canola oil. Deep fried foods are usually deep fried in canola or other vegetable oil and might even be hydrogenated. These are even more unhealthy as the oils used for deep frying are oxidized due to the high temperature; making them carcinogenic. Avoiding poor quality potato chips and deep fried foods will help greatly reduce your risk of chronic inflammatory conditions, heart attack, and even cancer.
Where do you find good quality food?
You can generally find fresh, local, and organic foods at health food stores or farmers markets. It is always best to double check if the food is organic and where it comes from (rather than just assuming it is organic because its at a market). If the food has an ingredient list, always double check it! Even products at health food stores may contain undesirable ingredients such as soy bean oil, sugar, or preservatives. The absolute best way to obtain good quality food is to grow it yourself. Starting a vegetable garden can be really simple if you choose crops that are easy to grow; vegetables like kale will grow just about anywhere!
What if you are on a budget?
You can often get good deals by buying in-season foods at farmers markets. Having your own vegetable garden will also help you save money. If you have a large freezer, buying large portions of meat (such as half a cow) from a local farm saves a lot of money per pound. Lastly, the most economical and nutritious part of the animal is the organs! If you can’t afford a lot of organic and pastured meat try supplementing your diet with liver, heart, bone broth, or any other organ meat you like! Organ meats are generally very cheap in comparison to more conventional cuts of meat (such as chicken breast or steak).
If you can’t afford to buy everything local and organic, don’t stress about it. As long as you are making an effort to buy the best food you can afford, your health will benefit! If you can’t afford to only eat pastured meat, try supplementing your diet with fish oil to increase your omega-3 consumption. Making sure your food is good quality takes extra work, but it definitely pays off in the end!
Thanks for reading!