Archive for the tag - produce

Eat Healthy: Find a CSA!

20080127_img_2633As I’ve said before, people tend to eat what they buy. What you put in your kitchen is a pretty good indicator of what you’ll put in your body. As such, it’s important to buy healthy and nourishing foods.

Of course, supermarkets are full of unhealthy choices. When we shop, we’re bombarded with sugary treats, packaged foods and heavily processed items. It can be difficult to resist temptation and stick with wiser choices like whole foods, fruits and vegetables.

Moreover, most of us tend to get into a culinary rut; we end up selecting the same foods week after week. However, a healthy diet is a varied diet. By eating a variety of colorful, healthy foods, we ensure a broader range of nutrients and minimize the risk of deficiencies.

That’s why I love CSAs.

CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. It’s a locally-based economic model of agriculture and food distribution in which a network of individuals supports one or more local farms through a financial pledge. In exchange, members of the CSA receive boxes of produce throughout the season.

Because CSAs are local (unlike supermarkets where produce is flown in from around the world), the boxes of fruits and vegetables reflect the local growing season. From week to week, the produce changes depending on the harvest.

The variety of produce isn’t just beneficial from a nutritional perspective. It also lets you experiment with new recipes and try new flavors. It’s actually a lot of fun… and, because you’ll never get a box full of candy, it becomes very easy to eat healthy.

I’ve already signed up for a CSA here in Los Angeles. But they’re literally all over the entire country. Use this website to find one in your area.

Is Fresh Produce Healthier?

frozen-mixed-vegetablesFresh sounds better than frozen, but is it necessarily true when it comes to fruits and vegetables?

Two separate UK studies were commissioned and carried out by Leatherhead Food Research and the University of Chester. In both studies, researchers examined key nutrient levels three days after storage. In other words, if you pick up fresh and frozen broccoli on Monday, how do the two compare on Thursday? Will the fresh or frozen broccoli be healthier?

After 40 different tests, researchers concluded that nutrient levels were higher in frozen fruits and vegetables 66% of the time.

According to researchers, the nutrient levels in fresh produce decreased during storage – especially in the softer fruits. This decrease wasn’t seen in corresponding frozen fruits and vegetables, disproving the myth that fresh food products are always nutritionally superior. At the very least, frozen produce is nutritionally comparable to fresh produce.

And it makes sense. Frozen produce is picked at the peak of freshness and then flash frozen. This process locks in and preserves the high nutrient levels until consumption.

Moreover, frozen fruits and vegetables also tend to be much cheaper. So really, it’s a win-win situation.

New Study: Organic Tomatoes Are Healthier!

organic_tomatoesWhile organic farming practices are certainly good for the environment, there’s been little evidence to show that organic produce is any healthier. In fact, with the exception of organic milk, the vast majority of research has found no link between organic food and nutritional or health benefits.

Even the American Cancer Society found no link between organic foods and reduced cancer risk:

At this time, no research exists to demonstrate whether such foods are more effective in reducing cancer risk than are similar foods produced by other farming methods.

Having said all of that, a recent study by researchers at the Federal University of Caera in Brazil found that organic tomatoes are higher in vitamin C and antioxidants than conventional tomatoes. Though smaller in size, organic tomatoes had 55% more vitamin C and 139% richer in antioxidants. In other words, the organic tomatoes may be smaller in size – but they’re of higher quality.

One theory suggests that because organic farmers don’t reduce environmental stress through pesticides, the tomatoes fortify themselves with higher levels of nutrients.

Still, it’s just one study against a myriad of studies that demonstrate otherwise – and it’s impossible to apply the findings to all tomatoes, fruits or vegetables grown elsewhere in the world. But it may help breathe new life into the nutritional case for organic produce – and provide some justification for the higher prices when compared to conventional produce.