Today, we often eat foods that contain ingredients of which we’ve never heard. By eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, you avoid consuming excess sugar and fat as well as many harmful additives and chemicals. Whether you follow a complete plant-based diet or not, by eating “greener,” you can necessarily eat cleaner, and in doing so help both yourself and your planet!
The term “organic” generally refers to vegetables, grains and fruit that are free of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers. It also refers to meat and products from animals that are raised without hormones or antibiotics or fed food that was treated without pesticides.
When you eat organic foods, you are more likely to avoid ingesting the same hormones and chemicals that these foods are treated with to make them grow or gain weight. These chemicals can affect body, particularly your hormones. This can impact many body functions, including energy production and your ability to regulate body fat. In addition, by choosing organic foods, you typically get food that is fresher and higher in both taste as well as nutrients.
By choosing organic versions of conventionally grown foods, you can also contribute to a healthier, greener planet. Choosing foods whose outer layers are highly nutritious (that you’ll eat), you reduce the need for harmful chemical treatments, like artificial sweeteners!
Buying locally grown food and produce has many benefits, not only for your body but also for the environment. Number one is the fact that you are getting food at its absolute freshest. Farmers’ markets and local organic sections are closer, so food doesn’t have to travel so far to reach you.
Did you know that the average distance in North America that typical fresh food has traveled to get to your table is between 1000 and 1500 miles! This means that your “fresh” produce could potentially be about a week old before you eat it. By shopping at the local farmers’ markets you’ll be guaranteed a much fresher, and therefore healthier food product.
Additionally, think about how much energy and harmful greenhouse gases will have been released to get the product to you. By buying local produce, you not only get the freshest products possible, but you also support your local economy and contribute to a greener, healthier global environment.
The term “free range” means exactly what you would think. The animals are able to roam free, as opposed to living side by side in tiny filthy cages. Free range animals are healthier and cleaner, and typically better fed and maintained.
In truth, many commercially produced meats begin as livestock that are raised in much worse conditions than we care to think about. The stress placed on these animals during their short lifespan creates illness that must be treated with antibiotics and drugs. In addition, many conventionally grown animals are fed diets that are either treated or may contain pesticides. We in turn ingest many of these chemicals in their meat.
By choosing to consume free range meats, you benefit from food that is cleaner, fresher and devoid of harmful chemicals. Furthermore, many people feel that letting animals roam free and grow naturally is a a more humane and environmentally friendly choice.
Depending on where you live, certain produce choices may or may not be what is considered “in season.” Typically, what you will find at farmers’ markets is part of the natural growing cycle in your locale. So, many of the same reasons that you may want to shop at your local farmers’ market may also prompt you to choose foods that are locally in season.
Foods that are out of season, necessarily have to be imported, often from places very far from where you live. For example, certain vegetables may grow naturally only in summer, while others may be more likely to to be harvested in winter and spring. So by choosing produce that is growing in season, you will be getting fresher, healthier fruits and vegetables.
Furthermore, because in-season produce necessarily doesn’t have to travel as far to reach you during the year, you are more likely to get food that hasn’t been treated with harmful preservatives or chemicals to keep them fresh. And by choosing locally grown, in-season foods, you will be reducing the need for high carbon emitting, less eco-friendly plan shipments of your food.
Finally, although organics are on the rise, not everyone has access to them. So what’s is the most important thing is that you feel good about what you are eating. By becoming more informed about your food sources, making choices that fit your lifestyle, viewpoints, an overall health goals will become more pleasurable and easier.
Sometimes people have a tendency to overthink what they are eating or what foods they are purchasing. What happens is that choosing the best foods becomes a chore, or you may feel overly guilty for wanting or buying something non-organic or out of season.
But remember, most importantly – enjoy your food! Be aware of where it comes from and how it gets to you, and also be happy with the healthy choices you do make. Every little bit counts, and it is the small things that add up… to a cleaner and greener world and you!