A New Year's Resolution

If you do just one thing to improve your lifestyle eating habits in 2013, make a resolution to EAT LOCAL. What does this mean? Look at my personal food triangle, and you will see that I have tiers of food sourcing, based on my location. I try to utilize all these sources before buying the same items at the supermarket. I feel fortunate to have these options - look for similar choices in your location. Remember too that certified organic, non-GMO, wild harvested, free range, hormone-free, heirloom, antibiotic-free, and other means of raising our food in ethical, sustaining, and healthful ways should also be part of your criteria.

There are many benefits of eating foods which are grown and/or raised at or near where you live. Since fruits and vegetables peak nutritionally about the same time they ripen - and then begin to lose the nutrients almost immediately upon harvest - it is beneficial to eat them as soon after harvest as possible. Often the produce in supermarkets has travelled for days or weeks from far away. Eating locally grown fruits and vegetables also enables you to eat seasonally. Many studies document the health benefits of eating an in-season plant based diet.

Eating locally also helps the farmers who raise the crops, and keeps the money in the local economy. Look for farmer's markets, community-sponsored agriculture (CSA) programs, and pick-your-own growers. Often you can get more varieties if the foods are locally grown, and they are better tasting and more nutritional, since the growers don't need to make "shipping-ease" and "shelf-life" major factors in their choice of crops.

When you travel around the USA, seek the fresh produce from those places, like cherries from Montana, almonds from California, citrus from Florida, wild rice from Wisconsin, wild blueberries from Maine, hot chiles from New Mexico, peaches from Georgia, apples from Washington, and many many other choices. Treat yourself to these yummy local specialties.

Get in the habit of looking at the labels of fruit, veggies, fish, and other products you buy at supermarkets. Support "USA" and avoid buying from foreign sources where the growing conditions may include chemical pesticides and fertilizers banned in the USA, contaminated irrigation, toxic soil conditions, irradiation, ozone treatments, sulfites, and other harmful intrusions in the food chain. I've stopped buying fresh ginger root, since all the local markets carry is imported from China. Instead, I buy organically certified dry ginger root grown in Peru, from Mountain Rose Herbs. I don't buy pine nuts anymore, since I didn't like their sources, so I mostly just use hulled sunflower seeds in their place. Look for healthier alternatives to your favorites.

Happy and Healthy New Year!