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BellyCore Fitness 

What to eat: Organic, Local and Seasonal

Buying the best possible food for our bodies it's very important but it can also be challenging. Many people would like to eat organic food but they complain that the price of the food it's very high. And they're right. On the other hand organic plants normally contain 25% higher concentration of micronutrients than the conventional plants. In particular they tend to have higher levels of antioxidants and polyphenols, like vitamin C and vitamin E.

But more importantly than looking if the food is organic or not, we should be looking to where the food comes from and how long it's been since it's been picked. Most of the produce we buy at supermarkets are grown hundreds if not thousands of miles away, many times being transported from states like California Texas and Florida, as well as South American countries, for the United States, or coming from South Italy, Turkey, Spain, Greece, etc in Europe, essentially from places where the growing season it's much longer.

In this case, days and weeks will pass by between picking up those crops and us being able to buy them at the grocery store. Many fruits and vegetables like bananas, tomatoes, oranges, peppers, are peaked hard and unripe so they can be shipped without bruising and then they're transported thousands of miles through a network of artificially refrigerated distribution centers before they finally arrive at the store, where they end up staying on shelves even longer.

You imagine how these fruits and vegetables do not have the right taste or quality because the food starts to change as soon as is picked and the nutrient content diminishes as well.

For example, the total vitamin C content of red peppers, tomatoes, peaches, apricots, and papayas has been shown to be higher in these fruits when are pick the right from the plant. The contents of vitamin C in broccoli find in the supermarkets in May, which is full season for broccoli, has been shown to be twice as high than in the broccoli found in a supermarket in September or October, when is out of season for the vegetable and the broccoli comes from a different state or country. So, many times when we buy vegetables from the supermarket, those veggies were picked at least a week ago, transported to the store in a dark truck, and then stored in the middle of a pile of boxes in the produce section... We buy them and keep them in the refrigerator for several more days before eating them. By now, chances are that they lost a lot of the nutrient value they initially had.

For Example a study done at Penn State University found that spinach loses 47% of its folate after 8 days from picking.

That's why produce at a local farmer markets or even better, produce from your backyard garden is a hundred times better and preferable than buying produce from grocery store.

Or

If you know that your local supermarket bring their fruits and vegetables from local farms first and they take pride in that, support them and the local economy.

Here in Florida where we live, we have grocery stores that proudly put signs with Made In Florida big colorful letters in their produce departments so the consumer knows that the source of the foods is local and therefore not far away. Even though sometimes it is fun to go directly to the farms and hand-pick our strawberries or blueberries when they are in season, we can also be confident that we can find the same fruits, organic or conventional in our grocery stores as well.

Coming from a different part of the world, I know that is often much easier to find biological food, organic food available at decent prices in other countries. Where I grew up in Romania, there was nothing but organic food and we would always go outside the big cities to buy from the front yard of the people who had gardens.

So please for yourself, as well as to advice your clients, is important to become more aware of the food sources if losing weight and a healthy lifestyle is the goal. Not only that this way you can support the local agriculture and economy in your areas, but this way you will ensure that the taste and the quality of the nutrients in the food, are not lost.

So here are a few of my personal guidelines when buying produce: if I have to choose between buying organic or local, I would definitely take my time to make that decision. Organic and local would be the perfect choice. In fact by living in Florida, I can tell you that taste-wise there is a clear distinction between organic California grown strawberries, which are shipped to Florida out of season, and conventional locally grown strawberries in season. Even though the California strawberries are organic, the fact that they have been harvested and then shipped here, which means that it probably a week for us to be able to buy them in the Florida grocery stores, they do not taste as good and they lost more nutrients, than the locally non-organic strawberries, which grow 1 hr away. Another advantage to buy an eat organic food is that it's grown without pesticides, herbicides, or other harmful chemicals. When those substances are used they help grow the produce faster and bigger to make it more appealing to us the consumers, by preventing all the bugs to stay away from it.

When these chemicals are used, please keep in mind that Most of the pesticides are going to be stored in the skin of fruit or vegetable.

So here is a list of fruits and vegetables which tend to contain most of the toxic chemicals and in this case is good always to always buy them organic when you have that option: apples, cucumbers, nectarines, squash, celery, grapes, peaches, strawberries, kale, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers.

Here is the list with the vegetables and fruits which have the lowest chemical content and you can go both ways, buy them either organic or conventional if you have that option: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, eggplant grapefruit kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papaya, pineapple, sweet potato and sweet peas.

My personal rule of thumb is simple: if I have the option between organic or conventional, taste wise by far I would always choose organic. From a nutrient perspective, I would buy locally grown first, then organic, then conventional. Price wise, my criteria is this: if I need to peel the produce, like for avocados, bananas.. I would choose the conventional produce if money it's an issue. But when it's about fruits and veggies which have a porous surface, and which we eat with the skin, like strawberries, peaches, apricots, etc I would definitely buy organic.

Bottom line is: As much as possible for yourself and your clients is good to avoid food that comes in a bag or box, and focus on fresh ingredients. Buy organic, locally grown produce as often as possible and look for farmers markets in your area. As for meat, dairy and eggs buy pasture-raised animal products, organic with no antibiotics, would be ideal.

These foods have more nutrients and fewer toxins and it will be less likely to have antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

For fish, buy wild caught instead of raised in farms and do your research to see which fish is recommended to be eaten in that period of time.

In conclusion, eat real food!!!!

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