We all know we should be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. The list of the benefits of a plant based diet is really never ending. In this article I will assume that you all are already including a wide variety of plants in your daily diet and rather than focusing on what to buy, I will talk about where to buy it and what to look out for.
Where do you get your veggies from? A local supermarket seems to be the most convenient option, but it might not always be the best one. Making an effort to analyse the quality of the fruits and vegetables you’re buying regularly is very important. Perhaps all you need to do is notice that one supermarket usually stocks better quality carrots or apples and a different one is better for berries or fresh lettuce? When I talk about quality, I mean how and where the food was grown. Is it local and ideally organic, meaning grown without any chemicals? Or is it shipped from a different continent and grown with the use of pesticides, herbicides and other artificial substances, which will decrease the level of nutrients in the food and increase the toxicity in our bodies?
If you focus on buying local food you will automatically be eating seasonally. In winter you will eat what’s available in the UK in winter, and in spring you will eat what grows in this country in spring. It seems to be such a simple concept, yet so many of us are so disconnected from our mother nature’s cycle, that we don’t even know anymore which veggies are growing when. We got used to having everything available all year round, as food companies are making this possible for us by flying over anything, anytime, from any place in the world. Eating seasonally means eating locally and this means you are getting better quality food as it’s tastier and healthier for you plus you are helping to reduce the impact food production has on the planet as there is less transportation involved.
We just need to stop and think about all this for a second before we rush through the supermarket after a busy day at work. Whenever I see produce from as far as New Zealand for example, I am thinking to myself – how would I look after a flight from New Zealand? Not great… Then I look at the food. Let’s say apples from New Zealand. I take one apple and see that it just looks great. In fact, it looks perfect. Clearly there must have been a lot of human intervention during the growing, ripening and transport process to get fruit across the globe in such impressive condition.
Summing up, you can find some good quality fruits and veg in supermarkets but this means focusing on seasonal, local, organic produce.
Check out this useful website which shows you what is in season
HEALTH FOOD SHOPS
When you start paying attention to the quality of the produce in the supermarkets, what you will most likely realise, is that the choice of local, seasonal, organic fruits and veggies is not very big. That’s when some extra effort is required. You’ll have to check out a few more local shops. You can also look a bit further from your home for a shop which specialises in good quality fruits and vegetables. Maybe you could shop there once a week? Perhaps there is a shop like this close to where you work? Wholefoods Market, Planet Organic, As Nature Intended are a few examples of shops with good choice of fruits and veg. Remember, these shops also ship some produce from far away and also sell some non organic food, so make sure to check the labels.
Another option is to find a local farmers’ market. Markets are great as you get the chance to chat to other people – those who buy and those who sell. Farmers’ markets usually have a very relaxed atmosphere. You can find not only fruits and veggies but also dairy products, meat, poultry, cakes and bread. To find out more about London Farmers’ Markets visit: http://www.lfm.org.uk/ The market in Wimbledon is open every Saturday from 9am till 1pm at Wimbledon Park Primary School. If you’re planning to go, let me know, as I’m there quite often!
VEG BOX DELIVERIES
If there are no good shops and no markets near you, then you can consider getting a regular veg box or veg bag delivery. It’s a great way of making it easier for you to stick to local, seasonal, organic produce. Also, if you get a delivery regularly, you will be forced to look up some new recipes once in a while, whenever you receive something you have never cooked with before. Just as I got my stinging nettles a while ago! Click here to read more about how I handled them 🙂
If you want to keep it simple and don’t like surprises, most of the vegbox suppliers let you specify which fruits and veggies are you favourite ones and which ones you never want to get. There are quite a few vegbox companies out there. On the streets you might have seen vans of the two big ones – Abel&Cole and Riverford.
SUTTON COMMUNITY FARM
Keeping Wimbledon based readers in mind, the one special veg bag provider, which I’d like to mention here is Sutton Community Farm. It’s located only around 8 miles away from Wimbledon. The great thing is that you can actually visit the farm and volunteer for a few hours and that will help you enormously to appreciate the value of locally, organically grown food. I did one day at Sutton Community Farm earlier this year and learned a lot and thought it was such a beautiful experience to connect a bit with vegetables. I know… You must be raising your eyebrows now as you might not know many people who think it’s important to connect with vegetables. Well. I do! Rather than seeing food in it’s supermarket form – washed, chopped and packed, at a farm you see it in it’s full glory – in the soil, with all the roots and leaves. The leeks you see on one of the photos below were picked by me on the day I visited the farm and then packed into veg bags which were distributed the next day. You can’t get anything that is more fresh and more delicious! To find out more about Sutton Community Farm go to: http://suttoncommunityfarm.org.uk/
The variety of produce they offer is smaller than that of the bigger companies, but I am telling you that if you go to volunteer at the farm you will want to have your weekly veg bag from there. You can always top up your weekly shopping with another delivery or at your local shops of course.
GROW YOUR OWN
If you have any chance to grow your own veggies, you should do it! Looking after your plants and then enjoying the experience of cooking dinner with ingredients from your own garden is great. If you have no garden maybe there’s a chance you could get an allotment? Waiting lists can be long but it’s always worth checking. Another option is to join a local community which enables you to grow food in shared gardens.
So where do YOU get your fruit and veg from? Share in the comments section below. Tips and recommendations welcome!
Explore various sources of fresh produce. Read the labels. Ask questions.
Enjoy tasty, healthy fruits and veggies.
Happy shopping (and growing)!