EAT LOCAL!!! – by Dr. Nick Araza
Picture your ancestors: wild and free, able to eat and move, hunt and gather, play and swim, run and jump, push and pull, climb and swing….and they did it all LOCALLY. They never had a contest, or a business meeting in London, San Fransisco or Seattle, nor did they dine on delicacies from the Orient, potatoes from Ireland, or avocados from Guatemala. Everything they did and ate happened within a few hundred miles at most.
When it comes to health – and especially nutrition – this has some HUGE BENEFITS!
For example, did you know that most of the nutrient content in fruits and veggies is infused by the plant into its particular fruit or veggie during the last few days of vine ripening?! If you think about this from a biological perspective, it makes total sense and it changes the way you will want to eat. Plants don’t just make fruits and veggies for humans and other animals for no reason, or because they are purely generous, benevolent organisms. Just as with all relationships, there is a give and take, give and give, and take and take component in order to make them work. Plants want the same two things that all animals want, and that is to survive and reproduce.
What does this have to do with eating locally, you may be asking?
All plants need time to make mature seeds - seeds that have everything they need to become a viable offspring. It just so happens that the plant begins to infuse the fruit or veggie with all the nutrients that make them attractive to animals (humans are animals) at the same time that its seed is ready to go out into the world and make new plants - the last 7-10 days of vine ripening. This is brilliant, because most animals know when that time is (farmers or wild humans have this capacity), and so both the plant and animal benefits from this process. The animal takes the food and gets energy and nutrients, while the plant gets the animal to take the seed or seeds to a new location, bettering its chances of reproducing.
Waiting for a fruit or veggie to “ripen” at the store or at your house isn’t quite the same as vine ripening. It is actually rotting - that’s right, it is the rotting process that breaks down the more complex sugars into simpler sugars that make it softer and sweeter. But there are no more nutrients in store-bought fruits and veggies…once the fruit or veggie is picked from the plant, no more nutrients can be infused into it. This is why it is so critical to eat locally. When food is picked prematurely, it is harder and travels better, but also has far less nutrients. Local foods have much less distance to travel, and therefore can be picked when they are ready, changing their composition for the better.
Another reason to buy locally is that the carbon footprint is much less because there isn’t as much fossil fuels used. Getting an apple from your backyard or the local apple farm not only tastes way better, and is more nutrient dense, but also hasn’t produced tons of pollution to get to you, as it would if it came from Washington State or South America (unless you live in those places).
Local farms are usually smaller and produce polyculture crops, meaning many different fruits and veggies. This is healthier for the land, for the plants, and for you and your children. Growing one crop in a huge industrial monoculture depletes the land, causing the use of petroleum based fertilizers (that’s right they use gasoline-like products to grow your food…mmm). The lack of diversity also sets the scene for disease. Having plants grow and reproduce as Nature or God intended makes healthier plants with more resistance to disease, meaning fewer – if any - pesticides (if it is designed to kill one form of life (insect or other), it isn’t good for you or your children to gobble up).
CSA or community supported agriculture is a term used by small farms that have a direct relationship with the people who eat the food that they grow. As with any seller-consumer relationship, knowing the person you buy from most always enhances the service, the relationship and the product (think of the service at mom and pop shops versus giant corporations). Usually CSAs are a little more expensive, but the quality and variety of produce you get is incredible, which is a huge positive for your health because different produce has different nutrients, and we humans are designed to eat a variety of foods - not just bananas, apples and oranges. Depending on your area, you usually pay for the entire season up front, and then you pick up at the farm or there is a local drop-off site once a week.
Eat Locally 4 Health,
Dr. Nicholas Araza DC CCWP
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