Americans on the whole should be looking for ways to eat healthier foods. Many people in America are suffering from obesity, diabetes, and a wide-variety of other health problems linked directly to diet. Something must be done and you must do it for yourself and your family.
Food production was originally highly personal. Families hunted, fished, raised cattle, chickens and pigs, tended to large productive gardens, and had fruit trees and grapevines on their property. What the family did not produce was obtained through bartering with friends and neighbors.
Things have changed dramatically. People have moved into the cities and no longer have the land (or the desire) to “grow their own” food, which has separated us completely from the process of food production. We now rely completely on major corporations to decide which foods will be available to us – and in many cases – how they will be prepared.
Advanced technology has also been incorporated into the way food is farmed and produced. Most of the food eaten today comes from huge factory farms so massive that the contamination factor is a serious problem. The situation has hit crisis level and it is time to take control of the food you eat.
Below are six simple ways to eat healthier foods
- Buy grass fed and pastured meats. Factory farms mistreat their animals and feed them sub-standard food. When you consume an unhealthy animal you are not providing adequate nutrition to your own body. Animals allowed to graze and eat a diet natural to them are leaner than their “fattened” counterparts, they have more omega-3 fatty acids, and they are more nutrient dense.
Search the Internet for local producers of grass-fed, natural beef and other safe meats (without hormones, antibiotics or GMOs). If you cannot find a local producer, look for one that will ship frozen cuts of meat.
- Buy pastured eggs if possible (from a local farmer).The Sprouting Seed explains thereasons why pastured eggs are the healthiest, “The birds run free in the pasture and eat a natural diet—made up of all kinds of seeds, green plants, insects and worms. Usually grain or laying mash supplements the diet. Hens are allowed access to pasture, but also have a pen to house them and protect them from predators. This is not only more humane for the chickens, but also produces much healthier eggs.”
“Mother Earth News” reported in an article titled, Meet Real Free Range Eggs, that pastured eggs when compared with commercial eggs (that you would find at a grocery store) may contain:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
- Ferment Some of Your Vegetables. Fermenting preserves food and enhances the nutrient content. Fermentation creates healthy live bacteria and yeast, which the digestive system needs in order to do its job effectively. During fermentation the bacteria also produce B vitamins and enzymes that are beneficial for digestion.
Cultures for Health states, “Almost any vegetable can be fermented. Fermenting local, farm-fresh produce is a great way to provide good nutrition year-round. You can ferment just one vegetable or a mix of many different kinds. A tantalizing mixture is beets with carrots, ginger, garlic, leeks, onions, dulse (seaweed), and jalapeños. Kimchi recipes include cabbage, red chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and onion. Pickles can be spiced with dill and garlic; sauerkrauts can include juniper berries, caraway seeds, and more!” Read the entire article for directions on “how to ferment your vegetables.”
- Consume raw, pastured (not pasteurized) dairy. If raw dairy products produced under safe conditions are available in your area, buy them. They are worth the extra cost. Raw milk contains many components that kill pathogens and strengthen the immune system.
Studies have shown some of the benefits of raw milk to children are: greater resistance to disease, stronger teeth, and overall healthier growth patterns such as better bone structure and organ development. There are additional studies that suggest raw milk aids better assimilation of nutrients.
If the milk is produced in dirty (unsafe) conditions, all of the benefits will be compromised. Do not buy raw milk that is produced in confinement dairies or under unsanitary conditions. Quality raw milk producers should be members of the Raw Milk Institute (RAWMI). For information on safe handling of raw milk, see Safe Handling – Consumers’ Guide.
Many people with milk allergies have found they can drink raw milk. You can also use raw milk to make your own healthy batches of yoghurt, kefir, and butter – plus you can enjoy the fresh, sweet cream that rises to the top of fresh raw milk (just like the olden days).
- Shop the farmer’s market for local foods. Local grocery store chains are getting better about stocking organic fruits and vegetables, but the fact still remains that their produce is often harvested weeks in advance and transported many miles to get to you. So, even though they are organic, the term “fresh” is questionable, which means that nutrient loss is a certainty – and significant.
Every big city that I have lived in, including New York City, has a farmer’s market. As a rule these markets offer fresh fruits and veggies that are picked the morning of the day you are buying. If you live in or near a rural area, you can possibly find local farmers to buy from directly. Either of these is a much better choice than the local grocery store.
If you have no idea where to start, use the Internet to check out CSAs (Community Support Agriculture) in your area. A CSA gives city dwellers the opportunity to enjoy quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. If you become a member of a CSA you will purchase a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. The season typically runs from June until October with weekly or bi-weely deliveries to a drop-off location in (or near) your neighborhood.
At the very least, take a drive this weekend and visit local farms in your area. You may be surprised at what you discover.
- Grow your own or pick your own. Gardening may not be your thing. Some people feel intimidated by the thought of growing their own vegetables and fruit. There is absolutely no reason to feel that way. It is quite easy, especially if you start small.
Choose one or two items that your family enjoys and plant them in large pots or raised beds around the perimeter of your yard. You can either start them from seeds or buy starter plants from the local nursery. Two easy ones to grow are tomatoes and strawberries – both tasty, healthy additions to your diet, and relatively easy to grow.
If time, hectic schedules, and no space at all are factors that would prevent you from growing your own, you can often find local pick-your-own farms. These types of farms provide carrying containers and allow you to walk the rows and pick your own food. Some of the delicious choices found on these farms include: sweet corn, pumpkins, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, squash, and beans.
Depending on the region in which you live, you may find pick-your-own orchards for apples, pears, apricots, plums and peaches. When you get home you can enjoy the sweet freshness of the fruit, make a number of frozen dishes for future delight, and even learn to bottle them for the winter months when the fruits are out-of-season.
I know that each of these suggestions requires time and effort, but once you incorporate the habits into your lifestyle, it really isn’t difficult. You can turn some of the steps into family adventures, and I promise you will be feeding your family much better than you ever have. ENJOY!