My favorite time of the year is spring and summer and with it comes a visit to the weekly outdoor farmers markets.
Eating and buying foods that are grown locally is a lifestyle choice just like eating organic is. A more nutrient dense way to eat is to purchase foods that travel the shortest distances to get to us, grown by farmers who care about the quality of what they produce. Locally grown foods, purchased soon after harvest, have retained their nutrients, are crisp, sweet and still loaded with flavour compared to the produce from your supermarket that is flown or trucked in.
Buying organic foods at the grocery store is a much better choice than commercially grown foods, but it doesn’t do much good if the organic lettuce is travelling hundreds of miles to arrive there.
Local farms here in the San Francisco Bay area where I live, grow a huge number of varieties with eye-catching colors and the best flavours. Check out the area in which you live and see what kind of farmers markets you can find! There is no better way to spend a sunny morning than strolling amidst all this abundance of fresh local food!
A walk through the farmers market is an inspirational way to shop for your dinner. Eating a meal isn’t only about sitting down in front of a plate of food. Our meal starts before we even begin to cook it. Shopping in an environment that is sensually and socially rewarding is the first step towards conscious eating.When we can actually see where our food comes from it creates a level of inner and outer nourishment and greater connection to the beauty of food that we might not have experienced before.
If buying all organic produce is a stretch finalcially, I cannot urge you enough to opt for local produce! It is often cheaper and may actually even be produced organically but just not have the certification. This is where it pays to be able to ask. Ask how it was grown. Many supermarkets may say they have the USDA organic certification, but it may not be the freshest or most affordable produce. Organic is, in fact, second best to non-synthetic pesticide grown local produce. If money is no object, then by all means purchase all of your produce in the organic section. However, if you want the healthiest options available on a budget, pay special attention to the following.
Eating non-organic vegetables is better, of course, than not eating vegetables at all! But conventional produce does contain synthetic pesticides; however, not all conventional produce contain the same level of pesticides. You can save money and reduce your exposure to pesticides by choosing organic for those fruits and vegetables highest in pesticides in conventional farming.
The link below lists the “dirty dozen” – 12 types of produce with very high pesticide levels. It’s important that you buy these fruits and vegetables organic.
The 2016 Dirty Dozen are:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
- Hot Peppers
- Kale / Collard greens
These 15 foods (conventionally grown) below are considered safer options, but are not pesticide free.
The 2016 Clean Fifteen are:
- Sweet Corn (Non GMO)
- Sweet peas frozen
- Honeydew Melon
Locally grown food often tastes better, preserves genetic diversity, is GMO-free AND by supporting local farmers , you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, so that future generations will have access to a nourishing, colorful and an abundant variety of food grown in rich soil!