After last week’s post on how to go about finding real food, it struck me that sometimes it’s more about the why than the how. As in, why should I spend extra time, effort, and money to feed myself high quality foods when I could substitute seemingly much cheaper and more convenient options? I can understand and relate to this argument, and even sometimes have it with myself. But ultimately, there are several great reasons that keep me (mostly) on track with consuming quality nutrition. To keep this short and sweet, here is an overview of my top 5 reasons to eat local, organic, (and grass-fed or pasture-raised for animal products) whenever possible:
- Higher-quality nutrients. Did you know that beef can be a great source of healthy omega 3s, but only when grass-fed? This makes sense of the very basis that when an animal eats the foods that nature intended, it will be healthier, and provide us with better nutrients! The same is true for organic produce that is grown in more nutrient-dense soils. Soils feed plant development, and therefore it only makes sense that the more nutrients in the soil, the more nutrients in the plant. Moreover, local foods are often fresher, and nutrients haven’t had as much time to degrade before you consume them. Consuming high quality nutrients equates to a more well-nourished, healthier me!
- Avoid chemicals and unforeseen side-effects. Even if you aren’t sure about the better nutritional quality of organic products, you will avoid exposing yourself to a variety of chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This is a top reason on my list because, even without diving into research on specific chemicals and GMOs, I am certain that I don’t need foreign chemicals in my body. It feels, well, unnatural. And with the relatively recent rise in many allergies, cancers, and other chronic conditions since America’s shift to industrialized foods, plain and simple, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
- Better flavor. Yes it’s true! Real food is not masked by salt, sugar, and fat as is much of the overly processed “foods” we have available today. For me (and I’ve heard this from many others) the flavors of real foods are better when the foods are higher quality.
- Improved animal welfare. Honestly, this is the primary reason that I decided to switch my animal products to at least organic and preferably grass-fed or pastured-raised. Conditions for factory animals are, to put it nicely, disgusting. For anyone who can stomach it, there are some great books and films that discuss how animals are treated in big agriculture today (Food, Inc. directed by Robert Kenner and The Face on Your Plate written by Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason are a couple that come to mind). For specifics on what different labels mean on animal products, you can refer to my previous post.
- More environmentally friendly and sustainable. Local products require far less travel, and therefore less fossil fuel, to get to you! Organic produce production respects the soil as a valuable part of growing nutrient dense foods. Soils in organic farming are fertilized naturally with manure and compost, and crops can be rotated to maintain healthy soil fertility. Moreover, animal feedlots produce massive amounts of waste that contribute to air and water pollution.
In short, these are my personal, primary reasons for putting in the effort and money required to consistently eat high quality foods. Hopefully, as more and more people see the value in eating local, organic, and responsibly raised foods (and demand these foods by voting with the dollar), they will become more easily accessible and affordable!