6 Things to Know When Grocery Shopping Protect the Body

wellbeing narrative food market illustration produce tips buy organic local importedHere’s to the countless times I’ve found myself standing aimlessly in the produce section, trying to make any kind of a decision.  Zucchini from Mexico or local farms? Organic vs. non-organic? Green vs. yellow bananas? The decisions are endless.  Here are 6 tips for your next trip to the market…so you can get the most nutrient-bang for your buck.  

Getting the most out of trips to the market:

  • Try to shop more often and only purchase enough for 2-3 days; i.e. avoid “stocking up” with a week’s worth of food.  Food loses nutritional value lying in a bowl on your counter or packed away in the fridge for a week.  The fresher the food, the more nutrient-dense it is.
  • Buy local if possible.  Local produce is significantly more fresh (therefore more nutritious) than imported produce.  When produce has to make its way around the world, companies compromise the food’s nutritional value in order to prolong shelf life, often preserving food with waxes, irradiation, gases and synthetic chemicals, such as fungicides and sprout inhibitors.
    • Here are some cold, hard truths about non-local produce:
      • apples and potatoes can sit in cold storage for up to a year before hitting market shelves
      • carrots can be stored from five to nine months when cooled in chlorinated water before packing
      • bananas and tomatoes are usually picked weeks before naturally ripening, which significantly limits the nutritional content
  • Favor ripe produce!
  • Avoid canned products, and check out your market’s ‘bulk foods’ aisle instead.
  • If given the option, always choose glass packaging over plastic.
  • When it comes to meat and fish, always try to buy organic.  Organic means farmers feed their stock organic ingredients, give them access to outdoors and rotational grazing, and maintain clean housing to minimize disease.  Non-organic farms may give animals growth hormones to speed up growth rates, antibiotics to prevent disease, and aren’t required to provide clean or humane living conditions.  (Many products use the term ‘natural’, but remember not to confuse this with organic.  Click here to read about the difference between natural and organic foods.)

Sources:
-Dean, Adam.  Local Produce vs. Global Trade.  Policy Innovations.  October 25 2007.  http://www.policyinnovations.org/ideas/briefings/data/local_global.
-Joshi, Nish.  Dr Joshi’s Holistic Detox. Hodder Mobius, London.  2005.
Natural and Organic Foods.  Food Marketing Institute, Volume I.  Federal Department of Agriculture.  http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/06p0094/06p-0094-cp00001-05-Tab-04-Food-Marketing-Institute-vol1.pdf.
Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Mayo Clinic. 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255.