How to Buy the Best Food

In addition to going organic (and you don’t have to go organic with everything-more about that in a bit), another great way to buy the best food that’s available to you is to buy what is IN SEASON. Doing this is smart for your health AND your wallet 🙂 If you are worried about cost (believe me, I am a 21 year old college student who pays for everything myself, so I understand) you need not worry! There are a few ways that you can buy healthful, delicious foods that won’t burn a hole in your wallet.

  1. Know which is the more economical and healthful organic choice (if you are looking to go or incorporate organic into your diet). Foods that are better off being bought organic are anything with a thin outside layer or skin and leafy greens. Think about it, these foods don’t have a protective layer. Therefore, they absorb any chemicals or chemical runoff much easier than foods that have a thick outer layer. Some examples of these types of foods are: spinach, kale, any kind of lettuce, apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, carrots, cucumbers, grapes, etc. Get it? If you eat the skin (and I mean MEANT to eat the skin-peeling the skin off an apple because you don’t like it doesn’t count) or the skin is thin, then organic is the better way to go. Of course if you are somewhere and it isn’t an option, there is no need to bug out. This is more for the majority of your time and consumption, not 100%. We don’t need to obsess over every little thing; that just adds stress-which is not good or healthy either! So which foods can you skip on the organic, if you wish to? Bananas, oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe, anything you peel that has a thick, protective layer that you never ingest.
  2. Like I first said, go for what is in season! Did you know that what’s in season is cheaper than what’s not in season? And it tastes better! What more could you ask for?! It’s funny how things work when you pay close attention, right? Well credit for this tip goes, again, to Bethenny Frankel (from Naturally Thin-see why I think everyone should read it?). Again, I will give you Bethenny’s words: “Seasonal food is not only fresher and tastier but a lot less expensive. In December a grapefruit costs half of what it costs in July. In July a peach is at its perfect ripeness, but a peach shipped from a foreign country in the middle of winter will be not only pricier but dry and flavorless,” (Naturally Thin pages 119-120).
  3. And to piggy-back on #2: Go Local! If possible, check out your local farmer’s market! You’ll not only get insanely fresh food, but it will be in season, better priced, and you’ll have fun! I love farmer’s markets. In addition to produce, you can find local eateries, markets, and bakeries (they usually set up stations and you can get flyers, menus, info, and maybe a free sample!). You can buy fresh bread, baked goods, lemonade (in the warmer months), jams, flowers, candles, and more! To me, farmer’s markets are like mini festivals-I just love them. Your local farmer’s market may only be a seasonal thing, where it’s only around in the warmer months. And that’s fine-take advantage of it when you can! There are other places, like Albany where I go to school, that have farmer’s markets YEAR ROUND. I just discovered this, and you can bet anything that I will be at this farmer’s market every week (I plan to buy food there and do some volunteering). When the farmer’s market is out of season (or if you want to make a switch from the supermarket), find out where your local health market is. Search online to see if you have a Mrs. Green’s; I have one here in my town and love it! At health-food markets, you can find anything you find at the supermarket, and you can feel better about what you’re buying (and bonus: you don’t have to stress so much about the labels-the hard work has already been done for you; you’re in a whole store of better food and products).
  4. Piggy-backing now on #3: It’s better for your community and small businesses! I won’t get into politics about big and small businesses, but I love small business and little “mom & pop” shops; they’re often very kind, personable people that love what they do. There’s often better quality to whatever it is they are selling, and it’s always so cozy. Going local will help the small businesses in your community and purchasing produce from your local farmer’s market will help your local farmers, not the supermarket. The farmer’s market is a great place to bring kids, too! You’re outside, interacting with the growers and sellers, and there’s so much around!

I’ll end this post with a great line that ends the, “Go Seasonal When You Can” part of Naturally Thin (page 120): “Learn what foods come into season when, and plan your eating around nature’s calendar.” (End-note: This quote doesn’t mean let nature tell you what to eat, but let her make some recommendations. Example: If you want to make a dish that calls for tomatoes, but tomatoes are out of season and the ones in the produce section look and taste bad, then go for canned. Of course, read labels and pick the best one you can find, but the canned tomatoes are canned at their peak; so, they’ll taste better! Just a tip that I thought was smart and helpful. Also, it’s fun to experiment and try new foods; spice it up a little! Don’t be afraid to see what’s in season and try something new; you may be in for a delicious surprise!)

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