We all have differing beliefs about food and what it takes to achieve health, fat loss and longevity. If you’ve read my posts on various diets you know I rarely choose a “side”. Challenging belief systems is hard and stressful but can often times lead to huge breakthroughs and beneficial changes in living. I personally want to be open to anything so strive to ‘test’ everything I do. Of course I have my trying moments, but when and am willing to test things I find that my progress becomes exponential.
REAL FOOD RULES
My belief in simple, real food is very strong. I don’t believe in cutting whole groups of food because there is more to it than just macro or micro nutrient numbers on a piece of paper. There’s also more than some food test someone did in some lab. There are so many factors ranging from environment and genetics to lifestyle choices and beliefs. We are all different, and part of the fun is finding what works best for our bodies and enjoying what we find. Too often we make it a right or wrong issue.
While having lunch with a good friend of mine recently we started talking about food choices. What did we each think was ideal for the masses? It allowed me to flush out my personal food philosophy and I wanted to share that with you and get YOUR thoughts.
Does organic matter? Yes and No
Organic has/had always ruled supreme in my mind. Logically it only makes sense. You eliminate pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides and you have less stress for the body to deal with, therefore focusing on the important stuff (digestion, assimilation and utilization, repair). Less stress had always equated to feeling better, more vibrant and healthy and who doesn’t want that? From a nutritional perspective studies have even shown organic foods to be higher in nutrients than their conventional counterparts by as much as 50%. Again, logic says the body is after nutrients, not calories. If organic food has more nutrients then I need less of it therefore helping with the battle of the bulge. I also consider the ecological importance. Most organic farmers do/did replenish the soil making it more diverse and nutrient dense. They are actively reducing the amount of chemical residue that ends up in our in environment and our food and drinking water.
All sounds fair, right?
My beliefs have slightly changed.
Organic food is still not a perfect system. While I personally think it’s still valuable, I think it’s best to know where your food comes from. I live in Dallas, TX. Do I eat a local peach from 20 miles away? Or the organic one from Colorado? I would chose the local peach. It’s VERY likely that your local farmer isn’t bombing his foods with chemicals #1 and #2 the nutrient density is going to be MUCH higher being that it might get to you in a day, vs. 3 days. Once the food is picked, the clock is a tickin’.
The other issue I have with organic is that it too has now gone industrial. Once a symbol of purity, and quality is now being mass produced. Once a sign that your food had come from a diverse ecosystem can now mean that it is from a soil stripped monoculture. Many of the organics that we see in popular food markets now (Whole Foods, Central Market and others) are from these large organic monocultures. Combine that with the fact that many are coming from either California or another country and you might be better cost wise chosing conventional. At that point you’re paying for a label. At that point it is just a fad.
As far as meat/dairy are concerned, it’s important to note that organic doesn’t mean better. It simply means that animal was fed an organic grain diet. Read more about market marketing here. Because Texas has weird organic meat requirements, much of what I eat is pasture or traditionally raised, but not necessarily organic.
When I chose organic?
When I know the farmer and the farm. Simple as that. And not in the sense that I’ve been there (although maybe I have), but that I know it’s a legit operation. It’s no perfect system, but I research my food and stick with what I know. It builds trusting relationships and gives me peace of mind to know that it truly is the best I can source.
I also purchase all organic non-perishables such as spices, grains, beans and other. Please don’t be fooled. Organic crap foods are still crap foods.
What I look for
Local AND organic – the obvious choice. There aren’t too many of these options in Texas, specifically on the fruit end, but if you look around there are some amazing local and organic vegetables.
Local – Higher in nutrients, supporting local ecology and economy. A win-win. There is tons of local produce, meats raised traditionally and herbs and spices in our North Texas region.
Conventional – There’s no way around it. I always have and always will eat conventionally raised foods from time to time. But, if there is another option, I’ll take it.
Why Local Rules Supreme For Me
There are truer seasons with local food. Eating with the seasons can prove beneficial in many ways.
Increased nutrient density due to shorter span from farm to table
Supporting local ecology/economy
Food safety as it’s not coming from a CAFO (concentrated ag feed operation) or a monoculture crop farm.
Environmentally sound choice due to reduce carbon emissions being used to get you your food. In many cases you can walk or bike to your groceries.
I love the fact that I know where my food comes from. I personally know many of the farmers, know what they are growing, what they are struggling with and feel connected as if I was growing it with them. It’s the reason why I support CSA (community supported agriculture) opportunities and do everything I can to give back. They are growing me, so I want to help grow them in return.
For more info on local food check out the co-op section and sign up for the newsletter.