When it comes to eating healthy, the emphasis should go beyond just carbs, calories, and cravings. It even goes beyond food groups. When you make the conscious decision to start eating healthier foods, it’s important to pay attention to how that food was grown and what’s in it.
Did you know that the nutritional value of some produce has decreased over the last few decades? Modern agriculture favors plants that have a high sugar and starch content, which makes them more energy-dense and palatable. However, that emphasis on sweetness that came with the shift from foraging to farming 10,000 years ago resulted in a decrease of beneficial phytonutrients. Phytonutrients (also called antioxidants) are the compounds that give plants their color and defenses, and have the potential to reduce the risk of modern diseases in humans such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.
The food we eat no longer gives us the nourishment it used to, requiring us to seek other sources of vital nutrients. This is also due to the increasingly more common use of pesticides and genetically modified foods (GMOs).
By consuming organic food as often as possible and choosing foods that are locally grown, you can minimize the effect of pesticides and GMOs in your diet!
Beware These Foods: The Dirty Dozen
These foods have been named as the most likely to be contaminated with pesticides by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). If you’re on a budget, these are the foods you want to prioritize buying organic.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Safer Bets: The Clean Fifteen
While it’s important to choose organic whenever possible, that may not always be an option. These foods are the least likely to contain pesticides, according to the EWG. Because of their many layers and rough outer skin, these foods are less likely to be toxic when bought conventional.
*Some sweet corn and papayas sold in the United States are GMOs, so choose organic to avoid GMO versions of these crops.
Local Food is Nutritious Food
Most foods are much better for your body, on multiple levels, when purchased fresh and organic. They’re closer to the earth and more care has been taken to ensure that they’re raised in a natural setting.
If you’re not able to find organic produce at a grocery store, farmer’s markets are a great alternative. Local farmers aren’t subjected to the same large-scale requirements of a corporate farm or those subsidized by the government. Therefore they’re usually more likely to use fewer pesticides and more natural methods when growing foods. Often, these small farmers grow with organic methods but can’t label their produce as organic.
It’s also easier to buy foods that are in season if you have local sources. And eating seasonally is statistically the best way to avoid food that has been genetically altered to remain fresh longer. Not sure what produce is in season right now? Get your free Sweet Serenity Seasonal Produce Guide to learn more.
Where do you buy food in your neighborhood? Do you typically buy organic food? Tell me why or why not in the comments!
For more information about specific plants and their nutritional benefits, I recommend the book Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson.