Fruits and Vegetables
Produce has always been the mainstay of our diet. Indeed, whether I was conscious of it or not, I adhered to the Japanese approach of having the protein source taking second billing on the plate. Everyone always gets the same vegetables and fruits.
About eleven years ago I began to plant my own organic seeds in deck containers to provide a source of my own organic produce. Since “organics” weren’t widely available at the time, it was wonderful, despite the work. This has been a fulfilling — and money saving — experience!
You reap what you sow!
This year our family has bought into a CSA Farm. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a way of supporting a local, organic farm and — hopefully — reaping the rewards. (Should the weather fail, or some other unforeseen circumstance arise, you could lose part of your investment, but the outlook is that you are helping to actually support the farm through good times and bad. Trust me, this feels great.)
The investment is actually quite reasonable for the season, and in the case of our particular CSA (they all vary), delivery is to our door. We get a huge bag of just-picked organic produce placed on our doorstep weekly, May through October. The beauty is that we will be eating a variety of things I may never have chosen at the market.
Below we see: mizuna greens, scallions, radishes, red mustard greens and spinach.
For the remainder of my produce, which I do need to buy at the supermarket, I rely on the Environmental Working Group’s guide of “Dirty” and “Clean” fruits and vegetables. This is available online at www.foodnews.org and can help you decipher what it pays to buy organic.
Our Protein Sources: Meat, Chicken and Soy Products
For the meat eaters in my family, I was having an increasingly difficult time with my choices at the supermarket. Even though I buy kosher meat, and it is supposedly of superior quality, I wasn’t really sure of this information. I wanted to be able to buy the meat I was writing about in my book and articles, grass-fed, pastured organic meat. There didn’t seem to be any kosher alternative. But, once again, I found a source!
Although I’m not thrilled to have to pay high shipping fees in addition to the high price of kosher meat, this is the choice I’ve made. And once I saw the quality of the beef, truly, there became no other alternative. I now order pasture-raised, kosher meat and have it delivered to my door, and my family swears by the taste. As a nutritionist who has researched the health benefits, I am not comfortable buying meat from industrial sources (CAFO’s), nor do I wish to support the industry. This is a humanely-raised product I feel good about.
Being a vegetarian, I do eat a significant amount of soy products. I keep these as unprocessed as possible, sticking to choices such as tofu, tempe and soy milk. I take care to only buy organic soy products; this because about 90% of the soybeans in this country come from genetically modified seeds. Buying certified organic is the only way to ensure that you are avoiding GMOs in your food.
Dairy Products and other Supermarket Fare
When it comes to dairy there are two questions I am frequently asked. The first is easily answered: yes, I buy organic milk. Why? One, because I want to ensure that the milk comes from cows that are fed an organic diet and two, because I don’t want cows that have been given BGH, or Bovine Growth Hormone. The second question, for me, is also easy: I never, ever buy anything fat-free. The fat in dairy is saturated fat; this is a natural fat and one which our bodies know how to assimilate and metabolize. We also need this fat in order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D E and K. Part-skim is a fine alternative.
You might have heard the advice to only shop the perimeter of the supermarket, as that’s where all the fresh food is located. While this is true, I do delve in for one item and that is grains. Whole grains are a mainstay of my diet; I try to buy them in bulk and I only buy organic. After these two rules, the playing field is wide open! Brown rice, quinoa, millet, kasha, wheat berries. I cook up extra to have it on hand throughout the week. Whatever is leftover finds its way into a “rice” pudding; whether or not the grain is rice, it’s delicious!
A cause that I’ve become passionate about is GMOs in the food we eat. A few short months ago you may not have heard much about it, however the topic is becoming more newsworthy as the days go by…and rightfully so.
I like to hope that an article I wrote in March —one which has crossed the country — has helped with this information upload. Please see my GMO Blog (click here) to read more about the health effects of GMOs in the foods we eat. I try to avoid GMOs in every food product I can.
How Much Does All This Cost?
I believe that by avoiding processed foods — which I find to be highly priced — I am offsetting the price of some of the other foods I buy. I pick and choose my products carefully. I buy quality items. I cook a lot, and that saves money too. What better place to put your money than in your optimum health?