Not Just a Fad
By Beth Martin, Just Local Food Cooperative
Eating a diet in rhythm with the seasons just makes good sense. Especially when you consider that most Americans are quite literally starved for the nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Seem impossible? Consider this, according to New York Times best selling author Dr. Mark Hyman, “ a whopping 92% of us are deficient in one or more nutrients at the recommended daily allowance (RDA) level.”
The Standard American Diet, rich in heavily processed packaged and fast foods (can we even call these things food?) and empty of fresh fruits and vegetables results in vast nutrient deficiencies that create most of the health issues we see today.
Good for Your Health!
Fruits and vegetables are at their peak flavor and nutritional content when they are ready to be harvested. Most foods begin to lose nutrients almost immediately after harvest. For example, spinach and green beans lose two-thirds of their Vitamin C within a week of harvest, according to the University of California, Davis. By eating locally grown (ideally organic) foods this means you will be eating not only more flavorful food, but you’ll boost your nutrition.
Eating a seasonally based diet with lots of variety throughout the year is the “cornerstone of preventive medicine,” says Preston Maring, a doctor at Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center in California. Study after study have documented the benefits of eating an in-season, plant-focused diet—reduced risks of cancer and heart disease, increased longevity, improved cholesterol, improved vascular health, increased bone density and weight loss, to name a few.
Good for Our Community/Local Economy!
There are many options for purchasing locally grown foods. The farmer’s market or CSA share is always a great place to start. Another year-round option is your local food co-op. Food co-ops, like Just Local Food, build relationships with local farmers and provide them access to market and offer a healthy price for their products. Local food co-ops are able to work with smaller growers because we don’t demand volume like bigger grocers. For every $1.00 you spend at a local food co-op, $.38 stays in our local economy. This may not seem like much but it has huge economic impact. And we all know a strong local economy is the key to thriving community.
Good for our Earth!
When you support small farmers who nurture their land through sustainable farming practices you are investing in more nutrient dense food for everyone while ensuring our small farmers continue to have a viable way of life. Modern commercial farming focuses on quantity, not quality – at the expense of soil quality – resulting in less nutritious food. For example, modern wheat and barley have 30 to 50 percent less protein than they did in 1938.
Nutrition is more holistic than just calorie counting and adding up nutrient levels. When you enjoy locally grown foods you nurture a connection to the natural world that is good for our bodies and our souls. According to Herbalist and physician Aviva Romm, it’s a “way of loving and caring for ourselves and others that allows us and those we serve to reach our fullest potential”.