Updated Wed., 5/23 – At this point it’s inevitable that we need to make greener choices all around. From energy choices, to clothing, to transportation and cleaning supplies, taking steps in the green direction is paramount. When I started making greener choices, my first step was taking a closer look at the foods I purchased and the way that I cooked (or didn’t cook) them. Again, baby steps are important so the family can easily adjust.
When it comes to buying organic foods, the way that you cook and store meals will change.
Green, organic foods are free from preservatives, which means that you’ll need to adjust to purchasing them “on demand” as you need them, rather than being able to simply store them for a few days until you’re ready to use them. My family makes a trip to the food store at least four times per week. That may seem like a lot if you’re used to making less frequent trips, but less frequent means more processed and preserved food. We need to take a look at that and start pulling ourselves out of that mentality. It doesn’t take too long to make a quick trip after work into the grocery store for just a few fresh items.
When buying groceries, a simple way to keep your brain on track is to think of the three N’s: Natural, Naked and New.
Natural meaning that your foods are not heavily processed, and do not contain pesticides or preservatives. They are fresh and all natural. There are now many places carrying fresh, natural and organic produce and meats. And if you have never tasted organic meat or produce, be prepared for an incredible experience! Your entire body will light up in gratitude to you! Not only are natural and organic meats and produce free from toxins, pesticide sprays and preservatives, but they allow your body to use their nutrients without flooding you with toxicities. And as an extra bonus, their natural flavor is retained as well.
Naked meaning that your organic foods will contain as little packaging as possible. You want to avoid foods that claim to be organic, but use non-renewable packaging. For example, you may see organic peppers covered in shrink wrap. These were shipped from too far away, and the plastic itself is certainly leaching into the produce. Also, remember to read labels. There is some sneaky stuff going on, even in the organic world. Watch especially for added corn and/or soy as these are 70-90 percent genetically modified.
For meat products, look for a local grass fed and/or free range source. And it is always best if the animal’s diet is grain free (organic grain or not). These animals should not have been given artificial drugs or medication, including antibiotics or bovine human growth hormone.
New simply means that you want to focus on buying organic foods that are currently in season.
Whenever possible, purchase groceries locally. Farmers markets offering local produce, meats and other things from local vendors and merchants are a must. Area grocery stores also carry many items produced or grown locally.
By doing this, you are not only supporting your local economy, but your foods will be fresh and healthy. If you are concerned about the farming techniques they use, such as whether they use pesticides, preservatives or hormones, simply ask them. You can also consider purchasing common foods in bulk. Single serving food products are a waste of packaging materials, and by buying bulk will cut down on your grocery bill and the effect on our planet. Just make sure to purchase only bulk foods that you frequently use to ensure that they do not expire quickly. Our family buys bulk herbs, tuna, coconut oil, frozen berries and the like.
Lastly, get your compost going and recycle! Composting fruits and vegetables is a great way to cut down on the amount of waste material and garbage going into your local landfill sites, and provides nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer that you can use in your gardens and on your plants!
If you have children at home, pack those school lunches in reusable containers. Not only will this help reduce waste, but you’ll save a bundle by not having to purchase ziplock bags or plastic carriers. And you’ll save their health by not putting all of their food in plastic.
There is also another very important point to consider when going green. Some of the products and materials that are often found in our day-to-day life are very dangerous, such as vinyl backpacks for example. These are often made from PVC, polyvinyl chloride. In addition, cotton clothing often contains pesticides and other harmful and genetically-modified chemicals. By removing these elements out of your child’s day-to-day activities, you are not only protecting the earth, you are protecting those you love. So as you take steps toward positive changes by going green, remember to look for natural materials whenever possible.
In summary, take your baby steps toward Natural, Naked and New foods, clothing, and supplies and remember, we vote with our DOLLARS, so be the change you want to see in our world!
The information provided by Dr. Allen-Bergman in this column, or by any of her businesses, agents or employees, is for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as recommendations for a specific treatment plan, product, course of action or medical treatment/advice. If you would like further information on this or any other articles, visit EducatingWellness.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to Fit & Fab, Star Journal, 24 W. Rives St., Rhinelander, WI 54501. All submissions will be treated in a confidential manner.