CHOOSE REAL, LOCAL, SEASONAL
I’m talking about food, of course. That asparagus you find at your grocer during August used to not be available. Likewise for peaches in February, oranges in July, and sweet potatoes in April. As consumers, we’ve become used to eating whatever is at the grocery store. And that, on so many levels, can cause problems.
If you’ve followed me more than a few minutes or so, you’ll know I’m a proponent of Real Foods. I wrote the book on it (available here) and I’ll happily remain on my soapbox. Honest-to-goodness, unadulterated, unprocessed, organic foods like zucchini and tomatoes, beans and sweet potatoes, grass-fed beef and pasture-raised eggs are simply better for us. Or are they?
According to Michael Pollen, these days our food travels an average of 1500 miles to arrive at our plate. That lettuce mix you bought for dinner tonight may have begun life in California. A lot of fossil fuels, contributors to pollution and global warming, are used to get that bag of lettuce from the farm to your plate. Fresh vegetables and fruits lose nutrients as they age, more or less depending on how long the travel time takes and the conditions under which they are stored. First they travel from the farm to the store, which may take a week. Second, they sit on the grocer’s shelf until they are purchased. Then, once you get them home, they may be stored in a refrigerator for several days before they are used. All that time contributes to substantial nutrient loss.
Local Means Seasonal. I can be found many a Saturday morning at my local Farmer’s Market. I prefer shopping from local farmers, when possible, for a number of reasons. Local foods are fresher because they traveled a shorter distance. I get a chance to connect with the seasons by noticing what produce is available: lettuces in May, beans and summer squash in June, tomatoes in July, green peppers and fall vegetables beginning in August. And, local farmers are being supported by selling their produce directly to their customers.
It may not be possible to buy everything locally and in season. I’m a big fan of cranberries and, last time I checked, there weren’t any cranberry bogs in my area of the country. But buying produce locally and in season, when possible, brings you greater health, greater community, and a greater connection with nature. What could be better than that?
On September 10th you’ll find me atClinton Physical Therapy Center giving a more detailed talk on eating local, seasonal, real foods. My talk is part of a free community event called Eat Well, Be Well, and features a group of local holistic practitioners. If you are interested in finding out more about this event, call 865-457-1649. Space is limited, so you’ll need to reserve your spot.