Benefits of Fresh, Organically Grown Iowa Produce

Soon, the farmer’s markets will be sprouting up in all the parks across town. With this in mind, I wanted to discuss the benefits of eating fresh, local and, when possible, organic produce.

Did you know that fresh produce starts to lose its nutrient value immediately after it has been picked? So, you might say, “At least we’re eating fresh produce instead of processed food.” Well, good point. It is still better than a sodium- and preservative-filled canned good. However, I challenge you to not just look at food as a way to get full, but rather, as nutrients to fuel your body to help it run to its fullest potential. Nutrient dense food will:

  • Give you more energy 

  • Keep you satisfied 

  • Stave off inflammation and chronic disease

‚ÄčSo, if you are going to eat fresh produce, why not eat the most nutrient dense kind and get more bang for your buck?

Local is Freshest

This is where buying local and fresh comes in. Fresh produce is going to have more nutrients than produce that spent weeks being shipped overseas or across the country. Thus, when you eat local, you are ensured that the produce is relatively fresh and retaining many of its nutrients. Produce that spends long amounts of time in a shipping process loses nutrients. It usually also has to be preserved, which means it may have chemicals and preservatives on it to allow it to withstand the time it takes to get to your table.

This leads me to the benefit of organic. Our bodies were not designed to break down hundreds of chemicals at one time. Yes, you will read labels that say that the chemicals and preservatives used are safe for consumption. However, our bodies are inundated with hundreds of chemicals at one time. It is the culmination of all these chemicals at once that our body has to try to detoxify. Eventually, it becomes too much, and we end up storing it in our fat cells. This is when things start to break down. Our bodies don’t run efficiently, we gain weight, develop chronic disease and get sluggish as we become filled with chronic inflammation.

Guidelines for Your Groceries

However, the down side of organic food is the cost. I am not naïve enough to think that we can all afford to buy organic food 100% of the time. This is why the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) comes up with their list of the “Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen” each year. This list includes the 12 most chemical-laden foods that we should always try to buy organic and the 15 cleanest foods that are ok to buy at any grocery store. The 2018 lists are as follows:

The Dirty Dozen                                                          The Clean 15

  1. Strawberries                                                             1. Avocados                          13. Cantaloupes 

  2. Spinach                                                                      2. Sweet Corn                      14. Cauliflower 

  3. Nectarines                                                                 3. Pineapples                       15. Broccoli 

  4. Apples                                                                        4. Cabbage 

  5. Grapes                                                                       5. Onions 

  6. Peaches                                                                     6. Frozen Sweet Peas 

  7. Cherries                                                                     7. Papayas 

  8. Pears                                                                          8. Asparagus 

  9. Tomatoes                                                                  9. Mangoes 

  10. Celery                                                                       10. Eggplants 

  11. Potatoes                                                                   11. Honeydew Melons 

  12. Sweet Bell Peppers                                                 12. Kiwis

So, get out and enjoy the spring weather (I promise, despite the recent snow, spring IS coming!). Visit your local farmers’ markets and look for local produce being sold at your local grocery stores.

For more information on the benefits of organic produce and the consequences of chemicals, check out this article released by the EWG.

Happy, healthy shopping!

-Angie McCormick, PT, NC, CSCS, Pilates Instructor