Are your Vegetables Good for You?

In the last few posts I’ve mentioned the book “The End of Food” by Thomas Pawlick. One of the main things I took away from reading his book is that if we want the quality of our food to improve we all have to start taking steps in the right direction to make that happen.

Big Bad Farms
One of the main themes of his book is how the affects of modern industrial farming (big farms that only grow the same few crops every season & use pesticides, herbicides, & non-organic fertilizers) are causing the nutrient levels in our produce to go down: “what the soil lacks in nutrients, the crops will also lack.” For example, conventional tomatoes today have 30% less vitamin A, 16% less vitamin C, 61% less calcium, 11% less phosphorus, less potassium, niacin, iron & thiamin than they did 50 years ago. Big farms are mainly concerned with two things: yield & profit, not nutrient levels & flavour.

What’s the point of eating your vegetables if they’re not even good for you and taste like crap? If you care about your health & the health of your family it’s time to start caring about where your food comes from.

What can you do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your food?

Buy Organic
Buying organic produce ensures that your food is non-GMO, and was grown without the use of any chemicals.

In order to grow food without the use of chemicals, organic farmers use traditional “mixed farming” methods: several crops are grown in rotation each season. This is a natural way to prevent pests from eating the crops, and to improve the quality of the soil. For example, corn uses up a lot of nitrogen in the soil. A mixed farmer will follow his corn crop with legumes, which naturally gives nitrogen back to the soil through its roots. Opposed to modern farming methods that simply blast the soil with non-organic chemical fertilizers to build up nitrogen levels.

Resources:
What’s on My Food?
EWG: Dirty Dozen
Food Additives

Farmers Markets
In the spring & summer months in Canada there are lots of farmers markets that pop up selling local, seasonal produce. Take the time to go there and do your produce shopping for the week, and support local traditional farmers. The more people that boycott modern industrial farmers’ produce, the better. Plus, you’ll get produce that tastes better, and is better for you!

Resources:
Farmers Markets Canada Directory
Farmers Markets Ontario Directory
Eatwild.com (find local organic & grass-fed farms)

Community Shared Agriculture Programs
Find a local farm, pay them a set fee before the growing season, and receive local and/or organic produce from June-October! Some offer delivery services, others create a location to pick up your produce box bi-weekly.

Resources:
Ontario CSA Directory
Toronto: Culinarium
Ottawa/Quebec: Juniper Farms

Grow your own Food
If possible, you can grow your own organic produce or participate in shared community and/or urban gardens. Make sure you get your seeds from good quality sources! If you live in a condo, many cities offer community garden opportunities: share a garden with a group of other people – share the responsibility & produce!

Resources:
Seeds.ca
Seed saving 
Toronto Community Garden Network (Google ‘community gardens’ in your city)

I hope this post inspires you to start caring about where your food comes from. The more people that start supporting organic & local farmers instead of just giving in to what’s easy & efficient (but not good for your health!), the better!

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2 Responses to Are your Vegetables Good for You?

  1. Sarah June 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Thanks for the post Lauren! I was inspired and went for the organic kale and dandelion this time around 🙂 I never knew “normal” produce could be so devoid of nutrients, I thought it was just pesticides.
    I might wander down to the farmers market next time I need some greens!

    • Lauren June 7, 2012 at 6:08 am #

      That’s great to hear! I know – a lot of info out there talks about GM & chemicals in non-organic food, but it’s not well-known that conventional produce is lacking in nutrients as well. Have fun at the farmer’s market!

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