As modern people, some of us seem to value possessions more than we value our own health or community. “I can not afford to eat healthy” is not really a valid excuse these day. So many people like to buy the most expensive toys, the latest phone, the nice laptop, a flash car, a beautiful apartment, impressive home furniture, and brand name clothes, while they spend very little time, money and effort on sourcing and eating healthy foods.
There is no excuse why we can not eat a healthy diet. Healthy eating is easier than ever. That’s because we know so much more about what a healthy diet looks like than we ever have before. Choosing healthy seasonal foods based on sound science remains the best-known way to reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune diseases. A sustainable diet is a key factor which determines your health and longevity, along with the other 4-pillars of Sustainable Health.
The rise in the number of farmers‘ markets has been the result of a dramatic shift in tastes, and a growing understanding of healthy eating, the community, and the environment as a whole. This amazing local food movement has accomplished something that many would have considered impossible a mere decade ago: the revival of the small local farms.
Despite the surge in these local farms, many western diets still contain 50% or more foods that are produced from factory-farming methods that threaten both your health and our environment. Now is the time to start supporting your local farms and growers.
9 Benefits of supporting your local farmers:
Nutrient density and flavour - Today’s mass-production and rapidly-supplied fruits and vegetables are coated with multitudes of chemicals, transported hundreds (if not thousands) of miles, stored for days in warehouses and on shelves in the supermarket, exposed to artificial light, and handled countless times. By the time they reach your table they’re a far cry from “fresh.”
After picking, fruits and vegetables continue to breathe. This process, called respiration, breaks down stored organic materials, such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and leads to a loss of nutritional value and flavour. The longer produce has to breathe before it is consumed, the less likely it is to retain its nutrients. The Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment notes that food transported long distances is not as nutritious as food grown and consumed locally.
By continuing to support local growers who abstain from using harmful chemicals, as much as possible you can reap the benefits of eating:
Organic fruit and vegetables that contain up to 40% more antioxidants
Organic produce that provides higher levels of beneficial minerals like magnesium, iron and zinc
Organic food that contains higher levels of vitamins (like vitamin-C)
Organic dairy that included up to 90% more antioxidants
”Maximising nutrient density should be the primary goal of our diet because deficiencies of any of these essential nutrients can contribute to the development of chronic disease and even shorten our lifespan.” ~ Chris Kresser
Good for the environment You don’t have to go very far back in history to find that people ate what grew in their surrounding area, based on seasonal availability. It is a sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and healthy way to eat. The seasonal cycle is perfectly designed to support our health and the health of the farmland.
Certain fruits, like apples, are best in the autumn and they are the perfect transition food helping the body get rid of excess heat and cool down before winter. In the spring the abundance of leafy greens help us detox and lose some extra pounds after a long winter of more substantial foods. In the summer we need to cool down and stay hydrated by eating more fruits, berries, cucumber, watermelon etc. Building a lifestyle around seasonal food facilitates the body’s natural healing process.
The human body requires approximately 40 different micronutrients for normal metabolic function, eating seasonally helps to diversify the micronutrients in the diet.
Save money by buying local and seasonal - Supply and demand baby. When there’s abundance of a product, such as watermelons in the summer, the prices go down. Seasonal food is much cheaper to produce for the farmers who would rather sell their products at a lower price, than not at all.
Picked when ripe: Another potential source of nutrient loss has to do with whether produce was ripe at the time it was harvested. The fruit may attain full colour after harvest, but it will not achieve the highest nutrient levels. Again, according to the Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment, total vitamin-C has been shown to be higher when the tomato is harvested ripe from the vine. Fruits and vegetables that have been allowed to fully ripen in the sun taste amazing! Freshly picked produce has the optimal flavour – crispy, fragrant, juicy and colourful.
Support the local community - Getting to know where your food is coming from, who is growing your food and how they do it also makes you feel more connected to that whole process. Farmer's markets create communities around food that encourage us to share our knowledge, ask questions and engage in our local environment. Together we are more powerful, and significant change can happen.
Home cooking - Eating seasonally forces you to cook more, and there is nothing better you could do for the your health, and the health of your family than learning to cook seasonal foods.
Free of Pesticides - Foods that are grown outside of their season or natural environment need a lot more human assistance in forms of pesticides, waxes, chemicals and preservatives to grow and look appealing to us consumers. By choosing local and seasonal food, you are likely to get a cleaner product! Many small family farms cannot afford to go through organic certification but still follow very natural and healthy growing practices. Talk to your local store owners and learn how and where they grow their produce.
In tune with nature - seasonal foods makes us more aware and appreciative of the beauty around us. We can live in balance with our surroundings instead of in conflict with nature. Embracing the natural rhythm of things helps simplify our lives and supports the environment. The options are limited, and we can trust that our food is nourishing and good for us!
A healthy influence - Not only is local and seasonal food tastier and healthier, but there is something about shopping for fresh foods in an open-air, social environment that feels right. The mere act of buying your food in this kind of atmosphere tends to inspire more healthful living. Your healthy habit can impact those around you and encourage your family and friends to eat healthier. In fact, the Economic and Social Research Council has confirmed people who participated in alternative food networks typically:
Increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables
Improved their cooking skills
Improved their knowledge about food
Increase other health behaviours such as:
buying chemical free household and beauty products
being more physical activity
have better family and community relationships
are more mindful about the environment
Taking the time and effort to source local and seasonal fresh foods to add to your diet has huge benefits to you, your family, and the wider community. By investing some of your weekend time into visiting a local farmers market you can increase your energy levels, improve your mood, improve your sleep, meeting people in your local community, and have a massive positive impacts on your mental and physical wellbeing. Who would have thought one small healthy behaviour change could lead to so many positive outcomes.