When we think about nourishing ourselves, we usually think about what we’re eating or how much we are exercising.
We don’t often dive more deeply into the finer points of nutrition, such as how many nutrients are lost if a fruit or vegetable isn’t eaten quickly. After it’s been picked, produce continues to breathe, which breaks down carbohydrates, proteins and fats and can lead to value, flavor and nutrient loss. The longer fruits and veggies breathe before consumption, the less likely it is to retain nutrients. Food that has been transported long distances is not as likely to be as nutritious as food grown and consumed locally, according to Harvard Medical School Center for Health and Global Environment.
Whether or not produce was ripe when harvested is another source of nutrient loss. Some crops, such as tomatoes, will attain their full color after picking but not their highest nutrient levels. Research has shown that specific nutrients, such as Vitamin C, are higher when produce is picked ripe from the plant. Growing your own food, sourcing goodies from the local farmers market, or participating in community-supported agriculture are your best bets for nutrient-dense and flavorful additions!
Enzymes are alive in foods as they are growing and can deplete in as little as 5 minute after picking! These seedlings can be up to 40x more nutrient dense than their full-grown counterparts. With live microgreens, you just cut what you need as you need it, just before eating. Growing your own microgreens can be really rewarding, or find a local business that cultivates and delivers them for you. Microgreens are jam-packed with nutrients and require much less water than adult plants. We are excellent stewards of the earth anytime we are reducing water usage, which plays into supporting local and downriver communities.
Sourcing local meat is another way to ensure you are getting the highest quality and nourishing food. You will get a product that is high in essential fatty acids, lower in harmful fats, higher in vitamins and minerals, and packed full of amino acids to build muscles and neurotransmitters in your body. They are also taking impeccable care of the soil, to make sure their land is well maintained, their animals are happy, and there will be good earth for the next occupants. Local farmers and ranchers who not only feed their animals a rich, nutrient-dense, natural diet but care for them like no other and raise them in a stress-free environment have such a deep love for what they do – that is a hidden ingredient that is irreplaceable.
Underlying these health benefits of buying local and knowing who’s growing/raising your food, there is a huge benefit to the local economy when you spend your dollars at a local business. It is estimated that $68 of $100 spent at a local business recirculates in that community. This number drops to about $43 if spent at a national chain, $14 for big box stores, and only $8 if spent with Amazon. This “multiplier effect” has been attributed to a local business spending money to operate locally, supporting other local businesses, and their employees and owners spending their income locally. Small-scale, locally owned, independent companies create healthier, more prosperous, entrepreneurial, and connected communities that are generally better off across a wide range of metrics.
The bounty of summer makes it easy to shop healthy and local and it is important to nourish yourself, and your community, all year long. What is one thing you can do today to shift your buying habits to support your well-being, and that of the community?
Nicola Dehlinger is a naturopathic doctor at Pura Vida Natural Healthcare in Durango. She can be reached at 426-1684 or www.puravidahealthcare.com.