Eating healthy is not always the easiest of tasks. If you are familiar with the industrial food system, you know that very little is what it seems, and almost nothing you find in your average grocery stores is actually good for you. Almost all of the meat is raised in horrendous and unhealthy conditions, and pumped full of all sorts of antibiotics. The produce is often heavily chemicalized. And the rest of the so-called “food” that you find in boxes and packages is all highly processed and genetically modified corn and soy products. So where can one go if they are serious about their health and care about purchasing wholesome, organic, REAL food.
Fortunately, there are a few silver linings, mostly because you and I aren’t alone in our desire to not pump highly processed, genetically modified, sugar-filled food into our bodies. Among the expansive sea of corporate “food” producers and sellers (which are more interested in keeping you coming back for more rather than your well being), there are places that make it their mission to produce and sell wholesome and sustainable foods. Here are some options:
- Locally Grown
There are farmers in your area. Trust me. There may not be that many, and you may have to travel a bit to find their goods, but there are local food producers and growers in your area. These producers are your best bet for cleanly grown, top quality produce. Most major cities will have at least several farmers markets throughout the week, and in smaller towns across the country they are cropping up as well. Do a quick online search for “farmers market (your town)” and if there is such a thing, you’ll be guaranteed to find the schedule that way. If you are lucky enough to have a local meat butcher in your area, count yourself blessed and get your meats there.Another added bonus when you buy locally grown and produced food is that your dollars are staying local as well. Shopping local is one of the best things that you can do for your city or town’s economy. Why give your hard earned dollars to some corporation that cares nothing about you or the place that you live? When you buy from local producers you are making a much smarter and much more sustainable investment.
- Local Whole Foods Store
Many towns and cities will have their own, local whole foods stores. If you can find one of these, they are a great resource for eating healthy. Many local whole foods stores will try to buy local and in-season produce as much as possible, which is great for when you’re schedule conflicts with the weekly farmer’s market. A local whole foods store will typically be fiercely devoted to the quality of its offerings. Local stores will also often change or add products based on customer feedback. You won’t have to worry about false advertising as much here, and corporate greed or stock prices aren’t considerations. Options can be limited, however, and prices quite steep at such stores, however, and it is best if they can be used in conjunction with your local farmer’s market.
- National Whole Foods Store
The whole foods and organic industry is big business. There are now more than a few national chains providing all manner of healthy options. As with any other big business product, you have to be careful and take what you see with a grain of salt. Research the brands they carry and tap into the online organic community to find out who is legitimate and who is questionable. When in doubt try to avoid packaged foods, but when you opt to go that route, always read ingredients. Pretty packaging is a trick that food producers know all too well. Because it works! But don’t be fooled, a quick scan of the ingredients list will let you know whether the food product is wholesome or not. Only go for foods that have limited ingredients and that you can recognize as a real food. If you read an ingredient and have to ask “what is that?”, don’t buy it. A good trick is to not eat or buy anything with ingredients that you can’t pronounce, and stay away from vegetable and seed oils (canola, sunflower, safflower, etc.) While you generally have to be more careful with corporate whole food chains, the choices provided are typically a greatly expanded field of options for healthy eating and (in some cases) slightly lower price point than your local whole foods store.
Tiffany Olson lives in Northern California and has a passion for healthy eating and the local food movement. She enthusiastically supports her local farmers market every Saturday, as well as her local whole foods store every Tuesday.