In regards to health living, I once heard somebody use the phrase “eat lower in the food chain.” All that this means is to eat more plants-vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts. The timeless advice of Michael Pollan is in keeping with this: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” We are omnivores with a lean towards herbivorism: plant matter, ie fruits and vegetables, is full of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients we need to be healthy, with a much lesser need for the high fat and protein content found in meats and dairy.
Eating a predominance of fruits and veggies in your diet is one of the best ways to boost overall health, increase energy levels and (best of all) lose weight. When your diet is right, your body naturally balances itself and sheds unnecessary fat stores. And if you’re going to make the choice to live healthier, than don’t just switch to produce: switch to /organic/ produce, which is the healthiest option we have available to us. Devoid of chemicals and pesticides and raised in accordance with sustainable farming practices, organics offer benefit on just about every level.
And while it’s great to know you’re supporting any organic farmer, take it one step further and support your local agriculture ; the benefits are twofold: you feel great because you’re eating natural food, and also because you’re doing your part to help out local business. Here a couple quick ways to get started on your transition to local, organic produce.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
CSA allows local farmers to offer up “shares” of their crop, which are sold for something like a membership subscription. You buy a share for a set price and each week the farmer will provide you with a box whichever crops happen to be in season at the time. You get fresh, natural, local food and a great seasonal variety, instead of the pesticide-soaked, genetically modified and artificially ripened fruits and vegetables from other countries that are available year-round. Keep in mind though that all shares are purchased up front. If the farm fails to produce a certain crop or suffers a bad season, you’re out just like the farmer is.
With often unbeatable pricing and freshness, the farmer’s market is a great alternative to people who’d rather avoid the inherent “risk” of CSAs or perhaps have greater control over the selection of produce that they receive.
Join a Cooperative (Co-op)
A food co-op operates in much the same way as the CSA, except you purchase a membership to a grocery store which deals in produce and goods from local farmers, as opposed to buying from the farmers directly. Members of a co-op are involved in the running of the business and its decision making process, electing representatives democratically and using a completely transparent management process.
Organic Grocery Chains
Believe it or not, there are emerging chains of natural, healthy organic food stores out there that aren’t completely commercialized. I recently took a look around a local Earth Fare supermarket and was pleasantly surprised to read a plaque in the produce section informing me that 65% of the produce available the year prior was purchased from local farmers, /within 1 to 2 miles/. This particular store combines the convenience of a large supermarket with the benefits of organic food and the ability to support local agriculture, something I’m definitely not opposed to. Check around your local area for similar establishments to shop at.
All in all, there are plenty of organic sources available to the average consumer. Making the choice to eat natural, organic, plant-based diets has always been known to help out in a variety of environmental ways. Now more than ever, if you play your cards right you can end up getting the best deals possible and in the process be actively involved in supporting your local businesses and community.
This article is part of the ongoing series entitled “Make a Difference” which discusses a variety of small, easy changes you can apply to your life for personal, environmental and global betterment. Act now, and make a difference.