Everyone has heard that eating fresh foods is “better” for them, but do they know why? What’s the difference from a tomato from the grocery store vs. one grown in a garden (or purchased at a local farmer’s market)? There are many advantages to eating healthy, and immune boosts and good moods are only the beginning.
While it’s hard to argue that fresh produce isn’t a good source of nutrients, there are negatives involved with eating fresh as well, such as foods that are more expensive and have a shorter shelf life. However, the biggest downfall to eating mass-produced foods are the pesticides and hormones that are used to grow them. Farmers use sprays to control weeds and insects, which work wonders, but those same chemicals can be ingested by consumers, which then have to be broken down and digested. The difference between a grocery-bought tomato and a home-grown one? The one from a local garden is much healthier. Pesticides and other hard chemicals aren’t an issue, and any fertilizers or repellants can be monitored locally.
But, if fresh and local is so much healthier, why are packaged foods far more popular? The answer is convenience. For every “all natural” label, there are surely twice as many (if not more) options that are cheaper, more readily available, and come salted or pre-seasoned. Many people have weighed the benefits and find that saving money and fewer trips to the grocery store are more important than a fresh diet.
The benefits of fresh:
- Purchasing and eating freshly-grown fruits and vegetables is the best way to ensure no preservatives, chemicals, or dyes have been added to your food.
- Produce actually loses its nutritional value over time, so the quicker it’s eaten, the more nutrients that can be gained from it.
- It tastes better!
Why to avoid packaged:
- Foods that have been canned, bagged, frozen, etc. have been enriched with chemicals known as preservatives in order to prolong their shelf life.
- These types of foods often contain other additives such as hormones, dyes, artificial flavors and sugars, etc.
- Consuming these additives makes it harder for a digestive system to do its job. Chemicals that are unknown to the body prolong the digestive process and keep actual nutrients from being digested. (That is also why people get hungrier faster after eating a healthy meal.)
- Bottom line, if it’s full of chemicals, it’s not good for you.
- Microwaving food alters its chemical make-up, making it equally as hard to digest as those foods full of preservatives and additives.
A consistent diet that includes fresh foods will provide a person with more energy, both physically and emotionally, and a healthier lifestyle overall. So the next time a new recipe or meal idea comes along, remember what’s more important: foods that will last, or a lasting nutrition.