Toxins in Food
Though there is a lot of food produce available to us at many places around; more than at any previous point in human history; yet, many a time we end up buying them without much exploring and research. But by choosing the ‘right’ produce, we can make the healthy and wholesome living we desire a daily reality.
The path to good food starts with selecting the right produce, the ‘right’ way and from the ‘right’ place; and it doesn’t have to be expensive!
In the present day, what to eat is increasingly becoming an important question to ask oneself. But it is far more important and necessary to check ‘behind the scenes’ of what’s cooking. The recipe to good food starts with how wholesome the produce, which then becomes the ingredient are, how they got made and from where they commenced their journey, before entering our kitchen.
So what is it that we look for in food produce?
Produce refers to Grains (including millets,lentils), vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices, – all of which comprise the basic food groups.
Many of us know that any produce that makes its way from the source to our plates without much processing calls for a big ‘yes’.And that fruits and vegetables that are grown at farms and backyards near us are treasure nests of freshness and wholesomeness. Another great quality in well-grown food is that it is usually light on the stomach. Besides these, whole and natural foods help in eliminating any toxins from the body as they are richer in antioxidants.
There are many more such qualities that make identifying the best and most suitable produce for us so much easier. So let’s start exploring!
HOW TO CHOOSE RIGHT
The path to good food starts with selecting the right produce, the ‘right’ way and from the ‘right’ place; and it doesn’t have to be expensive! Taking care of the below would make it easier for us to shop them right.
- Locally sourced - When the grocery and fresh produce we buy is locally produced, they would have been sold to us quickly after their harvest or production. And hence they skip or reduce the long periods of cold storage, lengthy transportations and forceful elongation of shelf life to reach us; thus keeping their nutritional value intact.
- Indigenous - Seeds and varieties that are native to our region and country are easily recognized by our bodies and hence the most suitable. Since they were being grown through countless generations, they are best suited to the particular region’s terrain, climate, soil and rainfall conditions. Besides they are packed with nutrients required to cope with the local conditions.
- Seasonal - Our grandparents and generations prior to them would get food only that grew in that season. This was a major reason for their by-and-large healthy lives. Ayurveda advises eating food according to the season, to enable the body to maintain balance and cope with external changes. For example the Indian raw green chana and red carrots are available only in winters.
- Least processed - Modern agriculture produce processing includes refining, husk/ bran removal, polishing, freezing, freeze-drying, canning, the addition of any preservatives/ colours/ agents. These mechanized and fine processes make the food lose much of its nutritional value. As against this, traditional farm practices like threshing, splitting etc.do not reduce the nutritional value of the food much.
Photo credit – Pixabay.com
WHERE TO LOOK
- Begin with setting up your own kitchen garden. Even a small apartment balcony can yield fresh and pure produce of mint, coriander, tulsi, small fenugreek (methi), wheatgrass, basil, green chillies and many more fresh ingredients.
- A visit to the local farmers market, where small sellers set up shops would be a great start; as against big stores which order in bulk and keep many items refrigerated.
- Buy directly at source - lot of orchards and small farms sell their own produce during harvest time. Visiting such places, including dairy visits etc. also helps to know their practices and genuineness.
- Buy from specialty vendors - Like; many local vendors exclusively sell green and leafy vegetables. This is usually happens as locally grown fresh produce needs to be sold quickly.
Photo credit – Unsplash.com
A few simple choices can make the mundane chore of selecting food items into a health and taste enhancing experience.
- Most millets, hard shell or thick skinned vegetables & fruits are usually safe to consume, as they act as barriers on the outside of the product and prevent pesticides or chemicals from entering the inside of it. For example most millets, pumpkin, pineapple, etc. would come under this kind.
- Look for produce that can be easily accepted and absorbed by our body. This means the body easily recognises and harnesses the micro and macro nutrients needed by it from the food. A good example is less polished rice over the super white variety.
- Grind your own spices, like in the olden days. It is easy to buy cooking spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin (jeera) etc., then dry it in sunlight and grind them into a powder. It ensures purity and keeps the processing to the least.
- A few hours of soaking and then washing fresh produce in water can keep any chemicals in it from entering our food.
- Replace pouch packed refined oils with cold pressed oils. The unrefined/ cold pressed oils need to be used in lesser quantities due to their whole and viscose nature than the refined ones.
- Choose regional or native specialty produce. One example for this is the ‘Munsiari Rajma’, a variety of kidney beans that is grown in the Himalayan valley. Besides the beneficial nutrition they provide, such varieties usually need less time to cook.
Though there is a lot of food produce available to us at many places around, more than at any previous point of human history, yet, many a time we end up buying them without much exploring and research. But by choosing the ‘right’ produce, we can make the healthy and wholesome living we desire, a daily reality.