4 Ways to Eat Healthy & Get Fit While Helping Out the Planet

1. Eat Seasonally

Around Thanksgiving I was entertaining and decided to make a special “winter comfort” recipe from one of my holiday cookbooks. The recipe called for red plums. I scurried on down to Kroger to grab a bag. Imagine the shock and horror I felt when the kind little produce man told me that plums were out of season- everywhere- and would not begin to come in from South America for at least two more weeks. What?! The spoiled American consumer in me reared its ugly head. Oh the humanity! Not being able to get the fresh fruit I wanted when I wanted it!? This is America for God sakes!

Silly isn’t it? But this is how most of us are accustomed to thinking. Many of us probably wouldn’t know a winter vegetable from a spring vegetable if it hopped off our plate and slapped us. Mores the pity. Eating out of season fruits and vegetables takes a hefty toll on our environment as they are either grown in hot houses that consume more energy or (as is most often the case) they are shipped in from exotic destinations like… Mexico.

Now a quick word about Mexico. I love Mexico. I spent a lot of time there when I was growing up and even had the privilege of celebrating my quinceañera there. (A quinceañera is a coming of age ceremony in Latin cultures and occurs on a girl’s 15th birthday. It’s a celebration that welcomes her into womanhood.) The people are open and warm and the culture is spirited and almost magical.

There are, however, some things I do not like about Mexico, primarily their lax if not non-existent agricultural regulations. Dangerous pesticides and unsustainable practices that would never be allowed in the United States are prevalent on many Mexican farms, yet we still allow their produce to make its way to our dinner tables and into the mouths of our children.

Eating seasonally promises many nutritional benefits. A seasonal diet ensures that you are able to consume only produce grown in the United States which carries a, somewhat, higher standard. Produce that has a long journey to market is picked prematurely and then ripened with chemicals. Choosing produce that is allowed to mature naturally “on the vine” ensures that you’ll be receiving maximum nutritional value.

2. Be a Local Consumer

Comitting to consume only locally grown produce will turn you into a seasonal eater overnight. It will also offers you the luxury of choosing exactly who you purchase your food from. Use sites like localharvest.org to find farms in your area whose growing practices are in line with your own personal values. In addition to participating in farmers markets, smaller family farms often foster personal relationships with their consumers by opening up the farm for visits a few days a month. This can make for a fun outing with the family and also give you an inside look at where your dinners come from!

Being a local consumer allows you to invest your money back into your area by supporting the family owned establishments that make up the heart of your community. It is an easy and fun way to reduce your household’s carbon footprint (even if the store’s produce is American grown, it still likely had a very long journey on a semi) and empowers you to chose fruits and vegetables that are fresh and nutritionally superior.

3. Plant Your Own Vegetable Garden

Growing some of your own vegetables is not as hard as people imagine and its benefits are far reaching. You don’t need a large plot or even a backyard. Many people find that a container garden is plenty to keep them stocked in their basic veggies and herbs for a full season. If you are limited with space and time or are not yet confident of your gardening skills, start out with a salad garden. For help and ideas in planning your garden, check out these helpful articles and site:

4. Legs: God’s Plan for Reducing Our Dependency on Oil

All joking aside, how often do you hop in the car when you could walk or ride your bike? True, it’s not always feasible, especially if you have young ones to tote around with you. However, there are some great strollers and bike carriages that make for a better work out for mom, an exciting adventure for the kids, and a much needed respite for Mother Nature. Is your grocery store within biking distance? There are some cute and trendy baskets that fit easily onto a bike to carry your bags. Turn your errand into a workout while also helping to reduce emissions and improve your city’s air quality.

Our bodies are made for the outdoors, yet we modern day humans spend more than 90% of our time inside! The results are often excess weight and a deficiency in vitamin D which our bodies naturally soak up through the sun’s rays. Studies show that the air quality inside many offices and homes is significantly poorer than that of a metropolitan city! The next time you have an errand to run or a nearby friend to visit, go natural and use the legs your mother gave ya.

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