Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whole, Fresh Foods are Best

But you'd never know that from what passes for food in most local grocery stores. At one end of the store you find a couple of aisles of "fresh" fruits and vegetables. The fruits are mostly laden with pesticides and harvested green in some foreign country thousands of miles away. They arrive on the local grocer's shelf flavorless and with reduced nutritional value. The veggies often aren't much better.

At the other end, you have the "fresh" meats, which are often cut from animals that lived miserable lives, and again, are pumped full of junk chemicals.

The aisles in between are what get really scary. Virtually all pre-packaged food is processed with excess sugar, salt, fat, and more junk chemicals. It is rendered virtually nutrition-less as it is powdered, shredded, reduced, frozen, dried, or whatever into the pile of "caloried tummy filler" you eventually take out of the box.

Over a decade ago, while we were living in Southern California, my wife and I discovered the benefits of shopping at local produce stands. I discovered that tree-ripened, organic fruit actually tastes like "the real thing." Most of my life I had eaten green-harvested fruit that had only a hint of the flavor that develops in nature.

Zucchini from our gardenSince moving to North Idaho, we grow many of our own vegetables and get fruits and other veggies from local organic growers. The difference spoils you. I can hardly stand to buy produce from the grocery store any more, and winter is a long, long, disappointing time away from fresh goodies.

[Note: To be fair, our local Yokes grocery store has an unusually large organic and health food section. We actually do get good stuff from them on occasion. That's why we shop there instead of the local Safeway or WalMart, which feed the masses who would rather save a buck than save their lives.]

Yes, organic fruits and vegetables often cost more. Of course they do! I don't know about you, but I'm willing to pay more if I get more, and you really do get more.

I've been happy to see that general awareness has risen with regard to the issues of our food supply. Books like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver have sold well and educated (or at least warned) a generation of Americans about the problems we face.

But the food industry is a business. It's all about money and a responsibility to give investors a good return. It has nothing to do with the health of your family, as long as they don't outright kill you so you can sue them and jeopardize their profits. I'd argue that the disconnect between the farm and the consumer is a big part of what's wrong with our food supply today.

The point of this rant is that I believe strongly that buying fresh, buying organic, and buying local will make you healthier and happier while it supports people in your own community instead of some remote billionaire investor. But it is up to you. If you continue to support the food industry that currently poisons you, don't be surprised when they figure out better ways to use your money to make matters worse.

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