With the spring warm up comes more sunshine, more greenery, and more opportunities for healthy eating. Local seasonal greens, asparagus, and other early vegetables will brighten your table and boost your health. Start a healthy eating plan this season to carry you through the growing season and reap the rewards.
Healthy Eating Starts with Buying Local
Healthy eating starts with buying local. When you buy from local farms and producers, you reduce carbon emissions and support people who are trying to keep sustainability alive. Plus fresh, in-season food has more nutrients and should be a part of your healthy eating plan! You’re probably already looking for an excuse to spend more time outdoors in the nicer weather, so find out the location of your local farmer’s market. The USDA offers a searchable directory of farmer’s markets. Often there’s more than one in the area. It’s a great place to talk to the people who’ve been involved in growing your food, bond with other shoppers, and browse local foods under a light more natural than fluorescent. It’s fun to ask the farmers about their growing practices and even how to prepare foods that you may not be familiar with but would like to try. If you can’t make it to a farmer’s market, look for local foods in a local grocery store, natural foods store, or even at some major supermarket chains. And, check out local farm stores in your area.
Healthy Eating by Selecting Organic
“Organic” is probably the most common food label associated with environmentally-friendly, healthy foods, but may also be one of the most vague. There are strict guidelines for food producers who label their foods organic including ensuring that no pesticides or harmful chemicals are involved in the growing or processing of food. Although this is improving, one of the biggest barriers to purchasing organic foods may be the price. Because of the natural limits on producing volume food with no chemical additives, organic food is more expensive to grow. If you need to balance your budget with your healthy eating, look out for foods whose organic quality will return the greatest benefits. Strawberries, for example, absorb many more chemicals than do fruits with a thick peel, such as a banana, so if your on a budget, you might buy organic berries but go with conventional foods in other cases. The Environmental Working Group has compiled a fairly comprehensive list detailing which produce items often contain the most pesticides. Grow Your Own Food!
If you have a backyard, a patch of grass, or even just a sunny windowsill, add growing your own food to your healthy eating plan. Start simple that you can eat right off the plant, even if it’s just some herbs. You’ll save tons of money and have the rare peace of mind of knowing exactly where your food has been and how it’s been grown. There are so many wonderful gardening books to get you started and articles online that are full of ideas. One we thought was helpful for beginners was from lifehacker.com. Plus, everything tastes undeniably more delicious when the farthest it has to travel is a few feet from its place in the soil to your kitchen.
Photos: Eco News Network