In conclusion to the previous posts about why to eat healthy foods and some pictures of how our kitchen is stocked, this post is dedicated to how to shop for healthy foods and make the best choices possible. I have come up with an acronym to help you remember the top reasons to pick a certain food item over another: "L.O.V.E" YOUR FOOD
L=Locally grown/produced. When it comes to F&V, this is a way to insure that the most nutrients are in the item. When F&V have to ship from across the country, they have to be picked before they are ripe so they are not spoiled by then time they get to you. Unfortunately, that also means that the F&V was not done growing and maturing, so it is lacking in full, vital nutrients. Make sure your F&V come from a farm as close to your home as possible. Farmers Markets and Food Co-ops make it easy to find locally grown F&V. Local also pertains to meats, breads and really all products (even non-food items). When you buy from a locally owned company you are helping build your own economy AND help reduce pollution (less cross-country trucking, packaging, etc.)
O= Organic. This is number 1 top priority (over local) when buying F&V, meats, milk, yogurt, cheese and really everything (again, even non-food items). There are several other books and blogs on this subject alone, so I will not get too much into it. Bottom line - buy organic when you can to reduce GMO, chemicals, pesticides, hormones, anti-biotics an other things that will KILL you! The top crops in America that are GMO are: Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed, Sugar Beets, Hawaiian Papaya (most) and a small amount of Zucchini and Yellow Squash. If it’s not labeled "organic" or "verified non-GMO" you can safely assume it is GMO. According to Dr. Mercola, research has now found Bt toxin, which is present in many GM crops, in human blood. And as for meat and dairy, products from cows may be injected with GM bovine growth hormone. Although we should limit consumption, when you do buy milk, yogurt, cheese and meat, make sure to look for labels stating "No rBGH, rBST, or artificial hormones".
V= Variety. The more variety of F&V you eat, the more variety if vitamins and minerals your body will get. Next time you are shopping, don't just pick up only Gala Apples, for example. Get one of each kind of apple, since each one will contain its own special combination of God-giving nutrition! Try new F&V - ones that you have never tried before! Experiment! There are so many great websites that show you exactly how to shop for, prepare, cook and season, there is no excuse not to try new foods. Check out http://www.eattheseasons.com/ for how to save money by eating what is in season. Try to also buy a variety of nuts, seeds, beans, spices and, again, you will gaining a much broader spectrum of nutrition.
E= Earth-conscience. Our agriculture procedures have changed dramatically in the past 100 years, and it is destroying the environment, the food and the human race. (Just watch Food Inc) This sums up the top 3 points, just as a reminder that when you are about to put that item in your cart, is it good for your body and was it made in a way that did not harm the Earth? No pesticides, chemicals, hormones, etc. to leak into our soil and drinking water? Was the animal treated humanely, fed grass (not grains) and was allowed to roam the Earth freely before it served its purpose? Alot of companies are now even packaging their shelf goods in recycled boxes. Most co-ops and farmers market vendors don't even supply bags - you gotta bring your own! We need to start taking a stand and demand the type of food we want and how we want it being produced. Every time you buy organic, you are "voting" for organic. And, unfortunately, every time you buy conventional, you are "voting" for conventional. There are plenty of local, organic, free-range farmers/ranchers out there - they just need support and the demand, and they WILL supply it!
In addition to the above, here are a few more "rules" to follow when shopping:
1) Before buying packaged items, think how many steps it took for that item to get from the Earth to the state it is in now. How many human interventions and processes did it take? And, are you ok with that? Some items can not be avoided or it is much more reasonable to buy it packaged, but it should have as few steps as possible from Earth to package.
2) Know EVERY ingredient in a packaged item. If you don't know what it really is, or a 5-year-old can't pronounce it, find out what it REALLY is before you eat it.
3) Avoid aluminum cans, especially that package very acidic foods (like tomatoes) that break down the aluminum into the food (look for glass instead). Infact, try to avoid anything canned, as this food is so over-processed there is hardly any nutrients in it at all. For example, I love soup on a cold day. Instead of cans of soup, make a big pot, divide into servings and freeze until you want it.
4) Shop the perimeter first - and fill your cart with F&V (local and organic), meats (grass-fed) and eggs (free-range, no antibiotics, etc). Then shop the isles for only items that fall under the above rules.
5) When it comes to nuts, seeds, spices, and dried goods (coconut flakes, cocoa powder, quinoa, dates, etc) always look for raw and organic, to again benefit from the most nutrients.