Living in Los Angeles has its pros and cons. This place is huge, which is good in that you can always find an area of the city you enjoy and can pretty much find anything your heart desires. Bad in that you can sometimes feel small and swallowed up because this place is just so big with people running here there and everywhere. For me one of the advantages of
living in LA is the access to amazing vegan, plant-based restaurants as well as the quality of our food. Although not always inexpensive, organic food is readily available and the prices are improving all the time.
My client base across the country is increasing and I have been working with people who are really struggling to find quality food. They cannot just run to the nearest Whole Foods or organic market. Still, there are things you can do to help yourself without succumbing to fast, fried, and processed food. Here are 5 tips to help get you on the right track.
1. Think Whole Foods (and we are not talking the market). The best thing anyone can do to improve their health is to incorporate MANY more whole foods into their diet. When I say whole foods, I am talking about foods that have not been processed in any way. Foods that are not packaged but are from the ground. Things like all fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, potatoes, yams, whole grains like oats, rice, quinoa (technically not a grain but a seed) etc. Try to limit things from a package like crackers, chips, cookies, cereals, pastas, yogurt etc. Not to say you cannot have these but they should not be the staple of your diet. When you are in the grocery store, stick to the outer aisles as this is where you will find more of your live, raw, whole food choices. Eating whole foods will require more preparation and cooking in the kitchen but in the long run you will not only feel better but you will find it to be less costly than eating out. Plus you can make one day each week, perhaps one day on the weekend, your ‘prep day’ where you cook and prepare batches of food to eat during the week when you are busier with work and other activities. The bonus about eating whole foods and cooking at home is that, according to Dan Buettner of The Blue Zones, spending more time in the kitchen, preparing meals with the ones you love, is one of the best ways to build community, which is one of the building blocks of happiness and longevity.
2. Clean 15 / Dirty Dozen…BUT. The clean 15/dirty dozen is a great tool to use when you are in the grocery store. For those of you who may not have heard of it. The clean 15/dirty dozen was created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and is an annual list of the fruits and vegetables that are okay to buy not organic (clean) versus the produce that we should try to buy organic if possible (dirty) due to them being heavily sprayed with pesticides, herbicides etc. Again, this is a great tool and if you can buy organic from the dirty list - great. BUT if you cannot buy any kind of organic produce then don’t shy away from conventional. It is far better for your health to eat conventional fruits and vegetables than little to no fruits and vegetables. There are just too many amazing nutrients in produce to not eat it. So look for the clean 15/dirty dozen but definitely go for the conventional if you are having trouble finding organic.
BTW - click on the link here to see the clean 15/dirty dozen list.
(Side Note: On those occasions when you can’t even find fresh conventional fruits and vegetables, much less organic, then look in your frozen section. Nowadays, frozen fruits and vegetables are usually flash frozen so they hold their nutrients better than years ago. So when all else fails, load up on frozen produce or do a combination of fresh and frozen which is what we do)
3. Farmer's Markets - farmer’s markets are a wonderful way to get fresh seasonal produce so if you can find one in your area make it a habit to go there as often as possible. I schedule it in my calendar every week, just like any other appointment. You may not always be able to get organic but talk to the growers and ask them if they spray their crops with pesticides, herbicides etc. Even though they aren’t organic a lot of farmers do not use chemicals on their crops. Acquiring the actual organic seal is a process and expensive so many farmers cannot afford to go through the process of acquiring the seal however, they care about the environment and the food they are growing so many will not use pesticides. Ask, get friendly with your local farmers. This is a wonderful way to support them and know where your food is coming from. Here is a link to find a farmers market in your area.
4. Online - these days it is getting easier, and more common, to order groceries online and, for those people who do not live close to an organic food market or where choices are limited, ordering organic produce and other products online may be the best way to go. You can do your own search for organic online grocery stores but here are the links to a few to get you started.
https://www.amazon.com/AmazonFresh https://www.vitacost.com/food-grocery-2 https://thrivemarket.com/landing/home4/?page=hp https://www.farmfreshtoyou.com/product/detail/2?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2uX3uKXN1wIVS7nACh1M_wu0EAAYASAAEgLj3PD_BwE
5. CSA or Co-Ops - Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmer and support your community. A CSA works where you buy a “share” or “membership” from a local farmer and in return you get a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Check out this website for more info and to find a local CSA in your area.
Local food buying cooperative (co-ops) is another great way to buy fresh produce if you live in an area with few grocery stores. The co-ops can be retail stores or buying clubs and are usually worker or customer owned businesses. The idea is that buy ordering food in bulk, directly from the supplier, groups of people and families are able to buy their produce locally, fresh, and often times cheaper than traditional grocery store chains. Take a look at this site for more info or if you are interested in creating your own local co-op.
I hope you found these tips helpful. I'd love to know where you live and how you and your family go about finding healthy produce in your area. Send me a comment below!