5 Simple Ways to Smarter, Healthier Eating

Photo credit: Jeff Krugh, CC BY-SA 4.0

The last few centuries have seen a lot of technological advances for us as a species. One of those significant advances was to change the way we farm and produce food. It used to be a deeply personal experience. We grew our own food, preserved it, hunted, and bartered with our community for the items we could not provide for ourselves. These days the majority get their food from huge factory farms. These farms are so massive in scale and the contamination factor so great that they often sterilize our food to make it safe for consumption. We have effectively removed ourselves from the process and become reliant on corporations to make our food choices for us. The rise of obesity, diabetes, and numerous other health problems indicates that we need to regain control of our food choices. Here are some simple ways to immediately improve what you eat:

1. Eat grass-fed and pastured meat and eggs. Factory farms mistreat their animals and feed them substandard food. When you consume an unhealthy animal, you’re not providing adequate nutrition to your own body. Animals allowed to graze and eat a diet natural to them are leaner than their “fattened” counterparts, they have more omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re more nutrient-dense.

2. Ferment your food. The fermentation process inactivates most of the anti-nutrients in certain foods so that they are easier to digest, and our body can make better use of their nutrients. Fermentation also creates healthy live bacteria and yeast. Our digestive system needs these beneficial bacteria to form a balance and to do its job effectively. You can ferment many foods in your own home for little money. Try starting with a simple vegetable ferment by soaking vegetables in a salt brine. You can ferment almost any vegetable like peppers, cauliflower, beets, cucumbers, carrots, or asparagus – the list goes on.  

If you choose not to ferment your food at home, visit your local grocery store and purchase fermented veggies, snacks, or drinks. Be sure to check the ingredients list for “Live and Active Cultures” or “Live Active Cultures.” The healthiest products will be those that list the different strains of live probiotics by name, such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium, and should mention how many millions of cultures are within.

3. Consume raw, pastured dairy. If you can get raw dairy in your location, it’s well worth the investment in your health. Raw dairy has healthy bacteria and numerous vitamins and nutrients that are destroyed during the pasteurization process associated with conventional milk. Many people with milk allergies find that they can’t drink regular milk, but they can consume raw. Use raw milk to make healthier versions of yogurt, butter, and kefir.

4. Shop the farmer’s market for local foods. Supermarket foods often travel weeks to get to you, and they’re less than fresh by the time they reach your plate. The nutrient loss associated with these foods is significant. Farmer’s markets usually have fruits and veggies picked that same day, and you would do better to shop there. For more fresh local produce, look into CSAs or visit your local farms yourself.

5. Grow your own or pick your own. Many people are reluctant or unsure of how to grow their own food, but they don’t have to be. Start by selecting one or two items you eat a lot of and planting those in pots or raised beds. Use seed or even buy starter plants from a local nursery. Growing your own tomatoes or strawberries, for instance, is a great start to being more self-sufficient. If you don’t have the resources or the time to grow your own food, you can still harvest fresh produce at local pick-your-own farms. These farms allow you to walk the rows of their crops and pick your own food. Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, pumpkins, apples, sweet corn, squash, and beans are examples of popular pick your crops.

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