Shopping at your Local Farmer’s Market
Contributed by CCNH faculty Bree Garrett
While organic produce is recommended because it is chemical free, locally grown produce may be even better. Nutritional value begins to decline immediately after picking and continues as the produce ages. Exposure to light, air and heat can also cause a loss of nutrients.
Much of the produce found in your grocery has traveled many miles and several days before reaching us. In many cases, frozen fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients than “fresh” bought from the grocery store. Shopping at your local farmer's market allows you to have the freshest produce available.
Most of the items are picked that day or the day before and are at their peak. Better yet, if you have any questions, the person who grew it is right there to ask. Another bonus it that buying local helps to make a positive impact on the environment.
When you purchase produce in the grocery, you are also paying for the gas and shipping costs, which contribute to pollution. Locally grown food does not demand these costs nor does it have the same effect on the environment. Because of consumer’s requests for organic produce, you’ll likely find local farmers who grow organically. This is ideal!
Shopper’s Guide to Holistic Eating
While we respect the individual choices people make to consume a meat and/or a vegetarian diet, we also know that the food can be laden with harsh chemicals and that it may have undergone processing. Most of the beef, pork, and chicken found in grocery stores comes from animals that have been raised in a commercial environment. It is not uncommon for animals raised in these environments to have been kept in small, overcrowded enclosures without the freedom to roam. Most animals living in these conditions are given hormones and antibiotics that, in turn, enter our bodies when the meat is eaten. Buying free-range, organic meats as well as organic produce whenever possible is strongly recommended.
The information below identifies nutritional foods to look for while grocery shopping.
Farm-raised fish vs. wild caught fish
Farm-raised describes fish that do not have spacious swimming areas. These fish are prone to disease, therefore they are given antibiotics in an attempt to keep the disease rate low. Farm-raised fish are fed commercial pellets instead of a natural fish food, so their nutritional intake is different than that of a wild caught fish. Farm-raised fish are higher in Omega-6 fatty acids and lower in Omega-3 fatty acids.
In a natural environment, salmon will absorb carotenoids through eating pink krill. Farm-raised salmon have color added to their food in order to give them a pink appearance rather than the gray color they become when fed the commercial food pellets.
If you include fish in your diet, wild caught fish can be purchased fresh or can be found in the freezer section of the grocery and will be labeled “wild caught.”
Back to Top
Beef, chicken & pork
Unless labeled as “free-range,” many of these animals are raised in small living spaces where diseases are prevalent. Many farms administer antibiotics to prevent sickness, as well as hormones to establish a higher production rate. Frequently, grains, that have been sprayed with pesticides and/or herbicides during growth, are the main food source for many of these animals.
Labels that indicate “Grass-fed,” or “free-range” is what to look for when choosing red meat. Free-range, organically-grown chickens typically have spacious fields in which to roam and eat naturally.
Labels to look for:
- “Free from hormones and antibiotics”
- “Certified 100% organic”
Back to Top
Fruits & Vegetables
Most store bought produce have had pesticides and/or herbicides administered during their growth process to rid the plants of bugs and disease.
Nearly all fruits and vegetables travel long distances from farms to grocery stores, even when they are organically grown. The majority of fruits and vegetables are harvested in a pre-ripened stage aiming to prevent spoilage; however, this practice may cause a loss of nutrients.
Local farmer’s markets usually provide the freshest produce available. Many local farmers produce organically grown crops and sell them at their local farmer’s market daily. Plus, shopping locally supports your local community.