I have to admit that I was not entirely sold on the whole organic thing when I first found out about it. Just from the standpoint of a casual shopper, it seemed like the organic stuff was pricier, confined to a small section of the store, and a little exotic for my tastes (Quinoa? What?). Then I was mailed a coupon for a dozen free range, organic eggs, and I figured, what the heck! I took them home, poached them like I always do, and sat down for breakfast. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I couldn’t believe the difference in taste, color, quality and freshness. I suddenly understood what everyone was talking about.
Next, I began looking into local farmer’s markets and orchards. I had suddenly become aware of everything I had been missing. Real honey from bee keepers in my own town, guacamole that was mixed right in front of me, and popsicles for my kids made from real fruit, and nothing else. The benefits of organic farming became clear as I made more of an effort to incorporate these foods into a healthier lifestyle. If you are on the fence about this whole organic movement, I hope I can convince you to give your local markets a try.
Organic, Local Foods Can Get You Out of a Rut
Since society has progressed, and we have all gotten away from hunting and gathering, it is easy to fall into a pattern of eating mostly processed, convenience foods. While these are certainly helpful for those of us with busy schedules, or perhaps a lack of culinary talent, they can sometimes keep you in an unhealthy pattern. I think anyone will tell you that having an occasional microwave pizza is perfectly fine, dietary restrictions notwithstanding. Having a microwave pizza every day, for months on end, is probably not ideal. The convenience of a prepackaged, quick and easy meal can’t be denied, but before you realize it, it might have been weeks since your last vegetable. Maybe we can change that up a bit.
Going shopping in a farmer’s market, or local farm co-op, can open your eyes to many different kinds of healthy and delicious foods you’ve been missing out on. They might even have pizza! Sometimes, the image we get when thinking of a farmer’s market probably involves turnips, leafy greens, and maybe an artisan bread loaf if you’re lucky. If you’re the type of person who isn’t exactly crazy about salad, that might be why you haven’t checked out the organic scene yet.
I really encourage you to go and check out some local, organic markets. The types of foods available might surprise you. If they look appetizing enough (and they always do), it will hopefully encourage you to try something new, and add more variety to your diet. If nothing else, they can help break you out of habitual buying patterns, and maybe change things up a bit.
Local, Organic Foods Really Do Taste Better
I talked about this phenomenon in the intro, but let me elaborate. Part of the reason “fresh and local” is a popular advertising slogan, is because foods that are both fresh and local are their own endorsement. Think about it this way: if farms in your area are able to grow strawberries, it is because strawberries are ripe and in season right now. They do not have to be preserved in any way to make the long journey from the other side of the world, nor do they sit in storage for days before they’re put on display. Local produce might have been picked the same day they are sold, and the difference in taste is obvious.
Some farms even offer a “pick your own” option, which is a personal favorite pass-time of mine. I have two young kids, and taking them out to go pluck their very own nectarines off a tree is fun, educational and healthy. It gets us all out in the sunshine, it requires a little bit of exercise, and it helps us all appreciate the work that goes in to producing our food.
Many farms also offer meat and dairy of the free range variety, and you will notice a difference there too. Meat, eggs and milk coming from animals that are not stressed, overly medicated or genetically modified can stand in sharp contrast to the products you are used to buying.
You Know Exactly Where Your Food is Coming From
Food from a farm stand was produced in the farm right behind it. Food purchased at a local, outdoor market was produced in your town, and you can meet the folks responsible. Building relationships with the people who bring us our food can be a valuable tool in making decisions about how you eat. Perhaps you are concerned about the use of potentially toxic chemicals in food. When you can personally ask the growers to explain their process, suddenly you have much greater control over what you do and do not buy.
This can be an especially powerful tool for those trying to eat around a food allergy or sensitivity. If you or a loved one has an allergy to something such as soy, corn, wheat or peanuts, it is absolutely vital that you know for sure it is not included in your food. This can sometimes be tricky when dealing with large scale commercial food producers. They like to use terms like “May contain allergens”, which is vague enough to give you pause. When dealing with local producers, they are not likely to be working in warehouse environments where peanut dust might have been flying in every direction, so they can offer food allergy sufferers much greater safety reassurance.
You Are Doing a Lot to Support the Local Economy
It is no secret that local “ma and pa” farms are struggling right now. More than ever, the huge, conglomerate farms are taking business away from people trying to carve out a solid, local consumer base. Farms are a great source of open space, they often employ many local people, and can respond to customer needs in a personalized and sincere way. Those are all things that food corporations can not offer. When you choose to spend your money on local, organic fare, you are keeping local people employed. Everyone from the farmer, to the person driving the truck, to the person manning the farm stand all have jobs thanks to people like you who chose to shop there.
Remember that farms are small businesses. They may not have the ability to absorb massive losses the way large corporations do. That is why they value repeat business so much. If they have a strong customer base, they can count on them to help keep business afloat during unexpected downturns. If you have a certain local farm you really like, do them the favor of staying loyal.
When you choose to buy fresh, local and organic, you are sending a message to the food industry that you prefer to do business with places that offer more accountability. Now more than ever, it is easy to make the change over to a more seasonal, fresh selection of foods. You can enjoy more flavorful, vitamin dense foods throughout the year, and know that you are helping to make positive changes in both your life, and in the food industry overall.
Check out these Udemy courses for more info on healthy living: