Looking to make healthier choices? Perfect! This is Day 6 of 30 of my 30 Day Paleo Plan. For more information on 30 Day Paleo as well as 30 Minute Paleo, check out the get started page. Post each day on your 30 Day Paleo journey to Twitter or Instagram and show me by tagging me with @dranthonygustin — get after it!
Vegetables and some fruits are so important to your diet because they are dense nutrient sources. Unfortunately, mass produced vegetables don’t pack the same nutritional punch that local and small scale vegetables have to offer. This means that produce purchased from a supermarket is often inferior to what you can find at a local farmers market for several reasons.
Mass produced vegetables are grown on gigantic mono cropped plots. The soil on these plots never goes through a proper life cycle. This mono cropping practice depletes the minerals available in the soil. When plants don’t get the food they need from the soil, they are less micronutrient dense. Just like humans who don’t get the proper nutrients they need, they do not thrive and are not robust organisms.
In addition to the issue of soil health, supermarket produce also has the disadvantage of higher transit time. As soon as the plant is picked from the tree or ground, it starts oxidizing, which leads to a decrease in nutrients. The vast majority of plants in the supermarket do not come from anywhere near where they are sold. Whole Foods does a decent job of incorporating local farms into their produce selection, so you can usually see where your produce comes from and determine how far it had to travel.
What is the paleo fix for this problem? Try to find local farmers markets in your area. They offer much more seasonal and nutrient dense foods. You will also be supporting your local farmers, especially those striving to make a living doing things the right way.
If you need help locating any of these markets, a simple Google search for “farmers markets (your city)” will go a long way to finding some of the freshest and most nutrient dense food available. This may require a bit more planning, but a trip to the local farmers market can be an enjoyable experience and worth it for the superior produce. Additionally, local farmers markets are often more affordable than specialty stores and can help reduce the rising grocery bills that can accompany healthier eating.
Ideally, if you can grow vegetables yourself, that would be the gold standard. However we are trying to break habits of going to megamarts to purchase vegetables and this is a much easier way to make healthier decisions. If you have the means and are already growing your own produce, even better. Stick with that and you can always head to the local farmers market to diversify your crop intake.
For more information, check out our previous article Source Matters: A Paleo Guide to Buying Produce.