Our plant sources are decreasing in value. There are several factors at play here: the over production of crops in fields without adequate time for re-mineralization of the soil, the use of genetically modified (GMO) plants, the ever expanding use of fertilizers to keep insects away and the pesticides leached into plants in order to produce more "viable" product.
It's not just our fruit and vegetables that are decreasing in nutritional value. Look at our meat sources. There has been a dramatic increase in the use of antibiotics, hormones and grain/corn feed. This is completely counter intuitive for the health of the animals that eventually make it to our plate. Using the old adage "You are what you eat", that doesn't bode will for our health either.
Because of this notable decline in our food supply, and in honor of National Nutrition Month let's go over the 5 Best Ways to Fight Our Failing Food Supply:
#1: Eat Organic As Much As Possible or Eat Local
Let's start at the beginning - What exactly is Organic? “USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible.” (Organic 101 here)
The basic understanding:“organic” simply means that farmers are doing everything possible to raise crops and animals as healthy as possible according to how they are genetically designed. Because plants and animals are living organisms, like us, the healthier they are at the time of consumption, the healthier they will be FOR US.
Typically, the largest objection to eating organic is the price. There is a list of foods that I spoke about in a prior blog called the “Dirty Dozen” (see picture on right), which are absolutely essential to purchase organic. These are the fruits and vegetables that have been found to retain the largest amount of chemicals used in conventional production.
Another option is to shop local. Speak to local farmers regarding their farming practices. Although they may not have the certified “USDA Organic” label (because there is an excessive cost associated with that label), they may use many of the good farming practices that are considered organic. Not to mention you will be supporting local business, which I am a huge fan of!
If you're in the Pittsburgh area, we have a few favor local farms:
Soergel's Orchard, Kaelin's Farm Market, Dilners Farm CSA (A CSA is a great option for consistent fruit and veggie bundles throughout the spring - early fall) and Sewickley Farm's Market .
Our food supply just isn't what it used to be. Knowing this and taking steps to fight its failures is the best way to meet your nutritional needs. This is Tip #1 of 5. Check back soon for the next installment!