Thinking with Your Stomach
When we hear the word addiction, we might think of alcohol or drugs, not food. Food sustains life, but it also holds the power to damage or control it. Many of us, whether we realize it or not, have our own food addictions. Sure, this can be beneficial if you crave a variety of fresh vegetables, and who doesn’t crave a juicy peach during the summer or a nice salad at least once a week? However, most Americans, even those with access to fresh food, don’t eat it.
A thought-provoking study demonstrates the likely correlation between emotion and unhealthy eating, finding that the healthiness of the food we eat decreases by 1.7% with every hour that passes through the day. America’s reliance on processed food for emotional comfort also helps explain why Americans consume 31% more packaged food than fresh food.
It is essential for us to have compassion for ourselves, and extend that care to what we put into our bodies. If you are a junk food junkie looking to liberate yourself from your cravings, remember that fresh produce is alive! When we put it into our bodies, so are we. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter produced in our gastrointestinal tract that helps regulate our mood. Knowing this, it makes sense that our digestive system doesn’t just help us digest food, but also influences our emotions.
Save on Cost and Waste
Eating fresh can be cost effective, even if you’re on a budget. Meal planning can help, and if you want to buy organic, be sure to invest your money in the “Dirty Dozen.” These 12 fruits and vegetables have the highest levels of pesticide residue, so it’s worth purchasing them organic. You are safer buying non-organic produce that has peel-off skin such as bananas and kiwis, since the pesticides don’t make contact with the parts you eat.
It can be easy to let fresh food can go to waste if you’re not careful. Taking home quality produce is an important start, and this chart can help you know what to look for when vegetable shopping. Storing and refrigerating your goodies properly is also important to preserving their life. This quick guide gives you the basics. And if your fruits or veggies are about to go bad and you’re not going to use them, put them in the freezer! You can use frozen fruits and vegetables for smoothies, stirfry, soups, and more. Even bananas can be put whole in the freezer, to be peeled and cut up for blending later.
Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk
Not everyone has access to the healthy food they need. Widespread access to fresh foods is indicative of our human right to eat what best sustains our bodies. When we discuss the importance of eating fresh food, we’re also advocating for food justice. Food justice occurs when communities exercise their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, and can be grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals . When we stop purchasing processed food, we begin to support widespread access to fresh foods and the people who grow them. Your local farmer’s market can be a great place to begin getting to know your community growers.
Luckily, there are awesome people in the world who are combatting food injustice with fresh produce and otherwise wasted food. Community refrigerators, such as this one in Spain, are enabling access to fresh food for people who don’t have it. This movement speaks to a common desire for a fridge full of fresh food that gives stability and comfort of home.
You might be thinking, “How do I help people who can’t afford or don’t have access to fresh foods?” If you’re interested in advocating for food justice in the tri-state area, check out Philabundance, The New Jersey Foodshed Alliance, or a local community garden!
Support Companies that Support Food Justice
It’s contradictory to fill your fridge with fresh food if the company that made your fridge doesn’t advocate for food justice! If you agree, check out Sub Zero. This company advocates for literally preserving your food as well as preserving food culture. They value health, family, fitness, the environment, ethics, and culture – what more could you ask for? Sub Zero is currently working on an initiative to raise 25,000 dollars for Katie’s Krops, an organization focuses on establishing more gardens across the U.S. started by a nine year-old girl named Katie . Sub Zero’s site is also great if you’re looking for tips on how to buy, store, and prepare every fresh food from figs to fennel root.