Friday, May 30, 2014
Food, Health, and Economy: Local and Organic Options
Can you eat both well and economically? This is one of those quintessential questions, and we’re here to say - yes. Local, organic, healthy - these are all phrases that refer to foods that are good for you, but not necessarily your pocket book. At MedTrainer, we believe you can have it all - an enhanced quality of life, good food, and change in your pocket.
The cost savings available if you want to eat healthy, organic food, and choose locally sourced fresh food items, may not be visible year ‘round, unless you’re lucky enough to live where seasonal produce is always available. But in regard to quality of life, supporting local vendors and purchasing organic, sustainable foods benefits you so much that healthcare costs are likely to be diminished - which will save you down the line. A healthy life style change eliminating fast food and reducing consumption of fatty foods and preservative filled grocery products may just save you so much money in healthcare costs that you won’t even wince when out of season grapes cost a lot more than that burger! Bidding farewell to high levels of sodium or sugar really can result in far less spent on medical and dental care in the future.
So what’s important to include in your diet? For us, purchasing fresh fish and organic veggies at a local farmer’s market beats having access to convenience foods like bottled water or individually packaged snacks. If you need to make a choice on what to spend your grocery funds on, then getting rid of convenience items, even healthy ones, can help you decide. And of course, if you are also eliminating candy and sodas from your diet - and your spending - then paying extra for fresh, sweet, organically grown berries makes better sense.
Cut meat from your diet, and it will add years of health, or so recent studies proclaim. It will also help the environment - according to Scientific American, meat production currently contributes between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of "CO2-equivalent" greenhouse gases produced worldwide, yearly! Assuming you’re alright with wheat, seitan contains about 31 grams of protein for every 4 ounces, contains no cholesterol or saturated fat, and is a good source of iron. One small 3 ounce portion of seitan offers about 118 calories and less than 1% unsaturated fat while the same amount of beef has 207 calories and 15-27% fats - and these days you can find many a faux chicken or beef product that you truly can’t tell isn’t the “real thing,” created from a microprotein, seitan, or gardein, the latter being a soy derivitive.
Now you might be someone who only buys organic grass fed beef, but that still doesn’t make meat green or sustainable. And livestock waste isn’t processed for sanitation - which harms our water supply and oceans. If you’re still a skeptic, think of the hungry, worldwide. About half of the world’s crops are now grown to feed livestock! If it wasn’t, the U.S. alone could feed, get this, 800 million hungry individuals. For farmers to produce just one pound of beef, they have to use an average of 2,400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain - so, as the average American eats about 273 pounds of meat every year, even a moderate cut-backs in meat consumption could help the planet tremendously as well as your health.
Certainly going meatless will also save money, allowing you to purchase fresh caught sustainable fish or artisan cheeses with impunity.
So where do you buy those goodies? Are Farmers Markets important resources? Another strong affirmative. Although some items may cost more than grocery store or big box store produce, seasonally a lot of products will be less expensive, based on where you live. For example, in California come strawberry season, you’ll find three packs of those berries for a lot less than grocery chains sell them for. The trick is to only purchase in-season produce whenever possible. Become a vegetable and fresh fruit adventurer! Would you really rather buy waxy, non-organic apples that are likely a year old at the grocery store? Or would you prefer sweet and fresh in-season nectarines, for less?
Another tip to cut prices and eat healthy is the use of bulk bins - and we don’t mean bulk bins full of gummy bears or candy! Nuts, hemp seeds, quinoa? Yes, much cheaper if they’re not pre-packaged. Just head for the bins you scoop these items from and then bag them yourself. These items are often fresher, too, as they’re not pre-packaged for a long shelf life. That’s a real win/win.
Cost savings aside and green-thinking aside, sometimes you have to do something simply for your own good! In the same way that the medical community has new compliance standards to adhere to, complying to a good-for-you diet might is just as important an adherence. MedTrainer brings efficient compliance training to the medical community - it’s up to you to bring efficient, healthy eating habits to your table.
Know the dirty dozen: if you don’t know this phrase as anything besides the title of an old Lee Marvin movie, it’s time you did. Some foods, such as bananas and avocados, whose skin you won’t eat anyway, are fine to buy in any form. But many others, like apples and peaches, which you are going to eat skin and all, are much less healthy. Why? Because pesticides and fertilizers will cling to the foods you eat. There’s a “seasoning” you don’t need!
Be aware of sodium - it’s not just the salt on the table, it’s in many pre-packaged foods, like bread, as a preservative. Check out local bakers that bake fresh bread - when products are designed to be eaten quickly or stored safely in your freezer until you need to use them, you won’t find anywhere near the same amount of salt and sugar that’s in commercially packaged bread. Guess what? Local bakeries will save you money too. And the difference between fresh baked bread and the stuff that came off the assembly line weeks ago - you can absolutely taste it.
When you buy smaller, and locally, there’s an extra bonus - get to know your vendors and you may find yourself getting that extra roll, or half-loaf.
Another tip - produce collectives. Sounds like something from the 60's involving tie-dye, but it is most assuredly of the moment. Farm collectives grow or buy seasonal fruits and veggies in bulk and distribute them at schools and community centers - or sometimes to your door - for a fee. There are some great bargains here if you’re willing to take the chance on what those items will be - could be basil, could be brussel sprouts.
So you’re thinking maybe, just maybe you can and should eat “better,” save costs, help save the planet, decrease your waistline? Good. Eating well can also make you simply feel better, too.
Feeling a little stressed out? Try a glass of half grapefruit, half cranberry juice. Grapefruit relaxes and stimulates, cranberry helps prevent a host of infections by actually changing your body’s acidity levels.
Need energy fast? It’s probably a protein crash. But before you reach for one of those heavy-on-the-sugar protein bars, try plain yogurt or cottage cheese with a tablespoon of sweet apple butter. You get the protein and the sweet, with less calories and less sugar. The pectin in the apple butter is good for your bones, too.
Feeling under the weather? Time for some vitamin C and the youth enhancing enzymes found only in - blueberries and blackberries. They make a good snack, too.
And if a sweet tooth is really biting you, give in. Try almonds, dark chocolate chips, dried banana slices and dried cranberries or raisins. Go light as you can on the chocolate, and it’s a preservative-free, fruit-rich way to deal with those sugar cravings.
In short - you’ll help your health and your family’s, save costs, find great ideas to help your energy and weight - all by cutting out junk food, cutting back on meat, and avoiding convenience foods. You heard it here, from MedTrainer!