The weekend is for farmer’s markets
Around here, the weekend is when people hit up the farmer’s market for their fresh vegetables.
Unfortunately, the weekend is also when things need to get done; cleaning, kid stuff, watching sports, weddings, sleeping in… The farmer’s market gets skipped and suddenly you’re looking at buying veggies in the store.
I know, right? This is a disaster, because you’re on a diet, and unless you have fresh veggies, you’re doomed to failure.
But why? If you can’t get fresh veggies, then fast food? if you can’t get veggies, then pizza? If you can’t get fresh veggies then no veggies? Why?
These are real, actual, true
excuses reasons that I got from clients, family, friends, and victims of eavesdropping.
- Grocery store veggies aren’t healthy.
- Organic veggies are too expensive at the store.
- Store veggies are shipped in from Chile.
- Canned and frozen vegetables aren’t good for you.
While there’s often some truth to these vegetable myths, by and large, they just aren’t true or even relevant.
Grocery store veggies ARE healthy, and organic is NOT always expensive
Grocery store veggies are either conventionally grown or organic, just like at the farmer’s markets. Choose wisely, no matter where you shop.
Are organics too expensive at the store? There are some foods that tend to be heavily contaminated with pesticides (apples) and others that are very good, even when conventionally grown (avocados). Use the Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen list as a guide.
Spend your money where it really counts!
Local isn’t always better with vegetables
Store veggies are shipped in from Chile, it’s true. Some are grown locally, as well.
Is local really better? For health? For the economy? For the environment?
In many places, out of season produce is grown locally, in hothouses with piped in water and artificial lighting. That’s not good for the environment and costs money and/or fuel.
Foreign produce might be shipped in, but it comes from Chile because it’s sunny there when it’s cloudy here. There, the produce is in season, and grown in the sun, typically using the water, heat, and sun that nature provides.
Studies on the full costs show that it’s often more cost effective and more environmentally sound to ship vs grow under artificial conditions.
Still, time is often the enemy when it comes to most produce, as we’ll see in the next section, so fresh, local, and seasonal might be the best choice when available. If it’s not, go with what is, knowing that shipped in produce isn’t as bad for the environment as we once thought.
Canned and frozen veggies ARE good for you.
Canned and fresh vegetables are actually very good for you.
Canned and frozen are typically processed just after picking and washing. Compare this to ‘fresh’ produce, which can takes weeks to get to the store, then it sits there for days before you buy it. Then, how long does it sit in the fridge?
Time is the enemy when it comes to veggies.
A University of Chester Antioxidant Report PDF found that fresh isn’t as fresh as you’d think when it comes to choosing between frozen and the stuff you find in the produce section. Frozen often has many times the anti-oxidants of its fresh counterparts.
It’s not always cut and dried, though; some veggies are protected by freezing while others actually become more potent as time goes by. …within reason of course.
Eating on the Wild Side is a great book that goes into which foods are best freshest and which can benefit from time.
One interesting thing I learned is that lettuce can benefit from being torn up the night before. It’s still alive, and once it’s torn, it tries to repair itself, producing more antioxidants that you get to eat. It’s an interesting book!
In the end…
I believe that produce picked off the vine and eaten that very day is the best of all worlds, but that’s not always a choice.
My advice is the eat a variety; not just a variety of veggies, but fresh, frozen, raw, and cooked. Over time, you’ll get a variety of nutrients in a stress free, cost effective way.
…then go ahead and sleep in next Saturday.