The Truth About Supermarkets
Supermarkets are comfortable places. The automatic doors open into a familiar, air-conditioned world where everything has its designated place. Predictably organized produce nestled in neat pyramids, shiny cuts of meat glisten behind glass, and troughs of dairy products strike poses in their colorful packages.
In the United States we have become what Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, calls “industrial eaters.” We demand pineapple, avocados and other tropical delights. We want apple sauce in a plastic pouch and yogurt in plastic tubes. We want dinners of pre-made meals and raspberries in the winter. There is so much seeming abundance and uniformity in our grocery stores- how can it possibly be anything but good? Isn't this evidence of the benefits of living in a globalized world, where food is one of many currencies?
Unfortunately, the ease and calm of our grocery stores does not display the whole picture. A This week’s newsletter will discuss why these large-scale systems are detrimental, explain the benefits of eating local, organic produce, and offer suggestions for how you can get started.
The Benefits of Eating Local: Health, Economy, Environment
Eating local, organic food is healthier for your body and the environment, supports the local economy and tastes better, too.
5 Health Reasons To Eat Local and Organic
1. Organic produce packs a stronger nutritional punch than conventional produce.
Organic crops feature higher levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as significantly less nitrates than often found in conventional crops. Nitrates, which are found in most meat and vegetables, have been linked to higher rates of cancer. Luckily for us “locavores,” it has been shown that nitrates are not harmful when paired with vitamin C and other antioxidants.
2. Organic farmers do not use harmful pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers.
These chemicals are detrimental to human health. Acute exposure can kills us, and over-exposure causes symptoms that range from burning eyes to severe vomiting. Chronic exposure to pesticides can cause neurological damage and lead to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Agricultural chemicals are endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with our endocrine (hormonal) system. This interference can lead to cancer.
3. Organic crops are not produced from Genetically Modified Organisms.
Ok, this is a big one so we will break it down into three bullet points:
•Agribusinesses claim that GM (Genetically Modified) seeds reduce food production costs due to decreased mechanical and chemical needs in planting, maintenance and harvest. This is certainly true, since GM seeds are made to be resistant to herbicides and pesticides sprayed over large crop fields. However, GM seeds are only required in industrial systems where the scale of the operation necessitates the use of herbicides. On small-scale farms where weeds are easily removed, the need for pesticides, and therefore GM seeds, become obsolete.
•Agribusinesses also claim that these foods are more nutrient-dense, since scientists can insert supplementary vitamins and minerals into the seed. This claim is actually not true, and avoids the question of why synthetically-produced nutrients are necessary in the first place. If we stopped relying on an industrial food system which creates chemical-soaked, nutrient-devoid produce, it wouldn't be necessary to genetically infuse seeds with supplements. This is akin to eating a strict bread diet, and downing a series of multi-vitamins to get all the nutrients that bread leaves out. Doesn't it make sense to just eat healthier to begin with?
•Internationally, GM seeds have been touted as a method for ameliorating starvation and health-related problems due to diet deficiencies. Agribusinesses claim that blindness, disease and infection can all be circumvented by exporting these nutrient-infused seeds. Again, this is a band-aid solution to a much bigger problem. Often the reason these public health concerns exist in developing nations is because agricultural systems in places like India and Peru are becoming increasingly commercialized. Unlike citizens of affluent nations, many people in developing countries struggle to finance balanced, nutrient-rich diets in industrialized and homogenized food systems.
4. Eating organic and local produce cuts future healthcare costs.
Investing in quality food may be more expensive up front, but we end up saving money by preventing chronic health problems. In the United States we currently spend around $2 trillion every year on health care. Over 75% of this massive amount of money goes towards treating chronic health issues such as Type II diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Practically all of the obesity and Type II diabetes, 80% of the cardiovascular disease and a third of the cancer could be prevented by a change in diet.
5. It's fun!
Did you know that strawberries grow in vines on the ground, or that tomato plants produce yellow flowers? How about munching on fried squash blossoms, or slathering home-made baba ghanoush over a warm piece of toast? The possibilities for fun, innovative and easy recipes abound, and with the most fresh and delicious ingredients the creation is bound to turn out delicious!
3 Economic Reasons To Eat Local and Organic
1. Spending money at the farmers markets supports local farmers. Money talks. If we spend money in the supermarket, it gets sucked out of our pockets and sent to big business farmers that are likely located far away from our homes. A number of research studies show that of every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 comes back into the community. That's compared to only a $14 return when we shop at a chain grocery store. By supporting local organic farmers, more money stays within our community. It also sends a message to these large, corporate farms that our health and environment are important to us.
2. Spending money at the farmers markets supports local businesses. Additionally, these local farmers are likely to purchase equipment and raw materials from local suppliers. Thus, supporting the growth of local farmers can also support the development of local businesses.
3. Spending money at the farmers markets creates jobs for community members.The Union of Concerned Scientists, academics and researchers who advocate policy changes for more sustainable agriculture, posit that “modest public funding for 100 to 500 otherwise-unsuccessful farmers markets a year could create as many as 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.” Developing our farmers markets creates not only a fun, family-friendly atmosphere, but plenty of jobs for community members.
3 Environmental Reasons to Eat Local and Organic
1. Local, organic farmers usually do not use pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. There are severe health and environmental detriments to using chemicals on our crops. Chemicals can drift far and are often found in our ground water and air, thousands of miles from where they were originally sprayed. Once in our ground water, these chemicals can cause great harm to animals, plants and soil. Additionally, persistent reliance on chemicals yields fewer crops, diminished soil fertility, and heightened susceptibility for pest and disease attack.
2. Eating local, organic produce diminishes our carbon footprint. Did you know that most food travels an average of 1500 miles from where it is grown to our plates? That tomato you are eating in January was trucked from Mexico to arrive at the supermarket bedraggled and mealy. It's not just an exhausting trip for the tomato, but a whole lot of energy consumed to satisfy an industrial eater's whims.
3. Local farmers take care of the soil and surrounding environment. Small local farms generally practice crop rotation, where crops are planted on different parts of the farm every year. This creates a richer, nutrient-dense soil. Additionally, local, organic farmers tend to invest in the surrounding land by removing invasive plant species, and protecting nature preserves from development.
How can I get involved and eat more locally?
The popularity of farmers markets, organic food suppliers, and restaurants that feature local produce, is growing each year. The Union of Concerned Scientists states that in 1970 there were only 340 markets in the United States, and now there are more than 7,000 today! Here are some easy ways become a “locavore”:
1. Visit a Farmers Market:
315 Detroit Street (734) 794-6255
Wednesday 7am - 3pm
Saturday 7am - 3pm
Depot Town Farmer's Market (at the Freighthouse in Historic Depot Town)
Saturdays 8 am- 1 pm
The Market Opens May 1 and will go through October 30, 2010
Downtown Ypsilanti Farmer's Market (at Michigan Ave & Hamilton)
Key Bank Parking Lot
Tuesdays 2 pm- 6 pm
2. Eat at a restaurant that purchases produce from local, organic food sources:
Arbor Brewing Company
Marks Carts: The Lunch Room
Silvio's Organic Pizza
Red Pepper Deli, at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market every Wednesday 4:30-8:30 until September 30.
3. Visit a farm:
Most farms love having visitors if you give them a heads-up. They might not be able to stop and chat for very long- there's lots of weeding to do! But if you want to spend some time pulling up carrots or rooting around for potatoes, they would love the help!
Back Forty Acres
Black Oak Farms
Dry Bucket Farm
Ferris Organic Farm
Frog Holler Organic Farm
Gibb's Berry Farm
Green Things Farm
Miller Amish Poultry
Nature and Nurture, LLC
The Chef's Garden
Todosciuk Farms and Greenhouses
Westwind Milling Company
New Beginnings at Digestive Health Ann Arbor
Eating local, organic food is a great start, but there are other factors that contribute to wellness. Sometimes we develop food allergies or intolerances that disable our bodies absorptive abilities. Though the old adage states “you are what you eat,” the truth is actually more complicated- “you are what you absorb.” If you or a loved one is experiencing discomfort or pain,a simple food allergy blood test will quickly and easily answer most unsolved digestive issues.
Please call 734-222-8210 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life. Please visit our website at www.digestivehealth-annarbor.com.
How can I Find Out More?
For more information, come to a workshop! Upcoming workshop dates in September:
Health Your Digestive System – Health Your Life
A healthy digestive system is essential to a health life. The saying “you are what you eat” is not true. You are what you absorb. Sixty percent of our body’s immune system lives in our digestive tract. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 people has a food allergy or sensitivity. The number of children and infants with food allergies is increasing. Sixty percent of people with food allergies do not have digestive problems. Problems like Autism, ADD, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, allergies, Gluten intolerance, psoriasis and eczema, sinus conditions, acid reflux, allergies and asthma are directly influenced by a comprised digestive system.
This workshop will explore the basic strategies of healing our digestive and immune systems. Topics of discussion will include the use of food allergy testing, testing for Gluten sensitivities, elimination diets, repairing a leaky gut, the use of digestive enzymes, healthy eating life styles, probiotics, essential fatty acids and vitamin D. Come and learn how.
Dates, Times & Locations:
September 21st- 7 to 9 pm at Brighton Community Education (810) 299-3818
850 Spencer Road, Brighton, MI 48116
September 29th - 7 to 9 pm at Chelsea Community Education (734) 633-2208, ext. 6001
500 Washington Street, Chelsea, MI 48118.
September 28th- 7 to 9 pm at Ann Arbor Rec & Ed Department (734) 994-2300, ext. 53203
1515 S. Seventh, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
October 5th - 7 to 9pm at Dexter Community Services and Athletics (734) 426-9515
7714 Ann Arbor St., Dexter, MI 48130
Digestive Health Ann Arbor Announces the addition of 2 new Gluten Free baking classes:
Gluten-Free Baking Classes
Having food allergies doesn’t mean you are sentenced to eating brick-like baked goods. These classes will offer information and tasty recipes for accommodating gluten, dairy, and other food allergies. Come find joy and passion in your kitchen!
Baking to Accommodate Gluten and other Food Allergies
Saturday, October 22, 9.a.m. – 11 a.m.
Allergy-Free Holiday Baking
Saturday, November 12, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Location: Aprill Wellness Center, 107 Aprill Drive, Suite 4, Ann Arbor
$30 per class/ $50 for both
Classes taught by Judy Sauer, author of Footloose and Gluten-Free: Baking Hints and Recipes from a Multiple-Allergy Family.
Call (734)761-8193 to register or for more information.
The Truth About Supermarkets