Summer is a great time to buy local produce from area farmers. You can find luscious berries, corn, beets, squash and tomatoes ripened on the vine at farmer’s markets, private stands and even some grocery stores. You may even find raw honey, farm fresh eggs and grass fed beef.
Sounds good, but why is this a wellness challenge?
When you buy it local the food is often fresher than produce trucked hundreds or thousands of miles. Fresh means more vitamins, better taste and more ‘life force’. Local produce is often organic although it may not be certified. Many farmers are happy to tell you if they used pesticides on their crops.
Since food raised in your area doesn’t have to travel long distances, natural resources are spared and the ‘carbon footprint’ is smaller. So overall local foods contain fewer toxic chemicals, may be healthier, and generate much less pollution on the way to your mouth.
Purchasing food from area farmers also boosts your local economy. In the North Country of New York where I live, there are many small farms. Their little farm stands bring in much needed funds to keep the farm going and meet their financial needs. Buying their foods is a big win for you and the farmer.
And of course, maybe even better, you can raise some of your own food. I very much enjoy stopping at farm stands, but this year I got the urge to ‘garden’ so I got two patio tomato plants and some potted herbs. (Just enough to keep the gardening bug at bay – but seriously, there is something very satisfying about growing your own food)
During the off-season, when local produce isn’t available, focus on purchasing these organic foods. These are the big offenders when it comes to
toxic chemicals: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes. If they are not available, wash well and remove the skin if possible.
A local search may also show you where you can purchase eggs and grass-fed ‘clean’ meats. When you buy large quantities, you can get a very good value.
It isn’t crucial to purchase organic onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, frozen sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya. They are the least contaminated of all fruits and vegetables (if at all). Most of the pineapple crop is organic anyway.
When you purchase organic and/or local food, you vote with your wallet and send a message to farmers, manufacturers and retails that you are a conscious consumer who wants healthy goods for you and your family. When you vote with your wallet, they listen.
Visit your local farmer’s market or a farm stand at least once this summer. If one isn’t available, check out your grocery store and look for local or organic foods. Purchase at least two locally grown or organic products. If it’s already cooked (like bread or a pie) that’s okay too, but do get something fresh also. Regularly purchase some of these foods throughout the year, especially ‘the dirty dozen’.
If you accept this challenge, or already do this, please tell us about it in the comments below.