There is no denying it, buying the “right” foods can be complicated, and with all of the mixed messages out there about good nutrition it can be down right confusing, frustrating, and discouraging. Navigating the grocery store, supermarket, or farmers market can go from being a fun way to dream up food ideas for the week to a guilt ridden chore, and that makes me sad! I have five food questions that I keep in the back of my mind when I go shopping that steer me towards certain foods and away from others and they have nothing to do with calories. These questions steer me towards real food that is good for my body, the environment, the economy, and my conscience. I hope they help you pick foods that you believe in and I am providing links to my favorite companies (no, I am not a affiliate of these companies and I do not get paid to write about them; I simply want to share products, companies, and resources that I love and use). So here you go! Part 2 of my 5 Food Questions series:
Where did this come from?
Imagine Look at where your food comes from. If it’s produce, did it come from a farm nearby, Peru, China or Mexico? Where a food is produced can tell you a lot about it's quality and it's environmental footprint. Produce that has to be shipped from far away is often picked unripe so it will not spoil before it arrives to your grocery store and that means that much of the vitamins and minerals that should be in the food are not able to fully develop. It really is best to buy produce that is in season and grown as close to you as possible for both flavor, nutrition, and to support the farmers near you that are trying to grow food the right way. It has also been shown that standards for imported organic food is not as strict as when grown in the United States and the farms that they are grown on are sometimes only evaluated once per year. Organic imports from China are steadily on the rise but the level of environmental pollution and lack of government enforcement make those products often heavily contaminated. Here is a great article by Dr. Axe that goes into more detail on the problems with the organic imports from China and the even larger issue of corporate influence on our National Organic Program here in the U.S. Please do your best to buy US and locally grown organic produce from people you can actually talk to about the food you are going to be eating.
Meat is another area of food production where it is important to ask where it came from as There has been a grass fed meat boom in the last few years that has resulted in many large organic meat companies moving their large farms to foreign countries and this practice is responsible for MASSIVE destruction of natural farmland and rainforest habitats. If you look on the back of packages of organic meats, their country of origin may at times be up to three different countries, which was my experience when I was shopping at Trader Joe's recently. Again, buying meat that is organic is much better than conventional so please choose it, but being mindful about where that meat came from and asking grocery stores to carry meat that is from the US is an empowered and educated way to shop. Here is a fantastic article that goes into much deeper detail about the foreign Grass Fed Meat industry if you would like to know more: click here.
Dr. Bronners organic coconut oil is a great example about how important it is to know where something comes from. I only by Dr Bronners Organic Cold Pressed Coconut Oil because I truly love what that company stands for. The organization they have started is called Serendipol and it is changing the way farmers grow coconuts so that it is more environmentally sustainable and they are providing job training and fair wages to the people in the region. Here is a link to a short video about Serendipol. The story of Serendipol is a great example of the questions that have been discussed already, as well as the next three that are coming up so we will discuss it further as we go along.
I know we cannot be perfect in every food choice but taking a few seconds to make a more mindful selection will benefit your body, improve the experience of tasting your food, and help the people who make the good food to be able to continue to do what they do. Be courageous and ask questions. The next question in the series is: How does this impact the environment? Keep an eye out for it!