As I mentioned in my introductory blog, I am a University of New Hampshire student currently majoring in nutrition. I chose this major because I always have had a passion for eating well and have always been fascinated with how we control what foods we consume! Throughout my studies, I have formed my own opinions on the food system we live in and how we should eat.
Ultimately, our food system is extremely flawed and is, in my opinion, the main cause of the obesity epidemic and the Western diseases associated with obesity (cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes etc.) The food system we live in is flawed because it promotes processed and packaged foods high in salt, sugar, fats, and chemicals rather than vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Yes, there are documentaries out there (like Fed Up) and educational resources on how to eat right (MyPlate guidelines). However, these do not seem to be working because more and more people are becoming obese. Subsidies are going to corn and livestock production rather than fruits and vegetables. It should honestly be the other way around. Instead of subsidizing the high fructose corn syrup and chicken meat that will become deep fried chicken fingers, why not subsidize fresh strawberries and lettuce?
In my opinion, the healthiest diets are those that are packed full of fresh fruits, vegetables, enough dairy, sufficient protein (mostly white meat), and whole grains. One thing I always like to think about when I go shopping for food is, ‘does that food product come with a nutritional label?’ If it does, it is more likely to contain added sugars, saturated fat, and preservative chemicals with unpronounceable names! When you go to the fruit and produce section of the grocery store or to the farmers’ market, you see that this is not the case. Fruits and vegetables do not come with a nutrition label slapped on them. If you eat as label-free as possible, then you are eating well.
This is where local farming comes into play in a major way. Most of the farms at a farmers’ market sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Staples of a healthful diet. Additionally, the produce and meats will have fewer chemicals because the farmers’ aim is not to increase the shelf life. Instead, they want to give you the freshest, most natural, and best product possible. Eating goods from a farmers’ market not only benefits you, but also benefits the local farmers, the local economy, and the environment. You can get all the major food groups at a famers’ market. Fruit and vegetables are the most popular. However, you can also get dairy from cheese producers, grains from pasta producers, and meat (protein) from butcher stands. The farmers’ market is your one-stop-shop to eating healthfully. Processed and refined goods are almost non-existent! If you are looking to eat well, just go to a local farmers’ market. They are even better than your whole foods and Trader Joe’s because those chains still have processed and packaged goods and the food is not produced locally in most cases.
Another great way to get goods from a farmers’ market is to purchase a CSA share, otherwise known as community supported agriculture share. You pay an upfront price to an individual farm and then you get a share of the harvest! It is an incredible deal because you get so much food! While the farm share is usually fruits and vegetables, there are also meat, egg, seafood, dairy, and even flower shares! For more information on CSAs and the CSAs Seacoast Eat Local is associated with, follow this link: http://seacoasteatlocal.org/find-local-food/csas/ .
Though our food system is flawed, farmers’ markets are one answer towards a healthier and fresher future!
Till Next Time,