Posted on 06/29/2012 at 08:36:27 AM by Student BloggerBy Chris Sovey
Summer's in the air, and fruit and vegetables are everywhere! Peak growing season is approaching, and a bountiful feast of fresh food awaits. The beautiful thing about this time of year is the endless ways to access local produce, baked goods, and more. So if you were unable to sow your seeds in the form of a garden, fear not! Here are 5 practical alternatives to start eating healthier this summer.
1. Venture out to your nearest health-food store. Most health food stores, such as food co-operatives make a strong effort to carry local (and organic) foods. Not to mention, these establishments typically carry a wide variety of goods that you may never have tasted or seen before. Variety is the spice of life, and it is certainly worth the increased price. Sure, it costs a little more, but the quality makes up for it. Plus, you are helping your community.
2. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Box Program. This is another excellent option to access locally grown foods. A CSA program is a collaborative effort of farmers and other suppliers. Members of a CSA program are able to regularly place an order of locally grown produce, meat, etc. Delivery schedules may vary. Some CSAs will deliver right to your door, while others will have a designated pick-up location. Many CSA programs continue year round. The best thing about CSAs is that you are guaranteeing a direct contribution to your local farmers. Let's not forget how delicious and fresh your food is, as well. A CSA near you can be found here.
3. Visit your local farmer's market. It doesn't get much fresher than this. Most food available at a farmer's market was picked, harvested, processed, or baked that day. According to the USDA, there were over 7,125 farmers markets operating throughout the U.S in 2011. This is a 17 percent increase from 2010. Rapid growth is expected to continue. Therefore, it is likely a farmers market will be close to you. Food at a farmer's market didn't need to travel thousands of miles on a semi-truck before reaching the hands of the consumer. The texture is crisper. There is increased nutrient density. Plus, you have the opportunity to form relationships with those who grow your food. You can search for farmers markets close to you here.
4. Join a community garden. What better way to learn about food than to grow it yourself? A community garden enables you to not only share the fruits of your labor with others, but to make friends in the process. Everyone works together, and as a result, crop yields are usually higher. Most community gardens grow organically as well.
5. Make a plan to prepare at least 3-4 meals at home per week with a friend or family member. By holding one-another responsible for meals, you increase the likelihood that you will stick to it. Plus, it can be fun! When you cook with someone else, it's not a drag. You're creating something together. That's meaningful.
Chris Sovey is the founder of www.healthyconsumer.com, a premiere website for practical tips on healthy living and integrative health practices.
SOURCES: USDA. (2012, April 12). Agricultural marketing service - farmers markets. Retrieved from http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FARMERSMARKETS