Vegetables – are they REALLY that healthy??…

 I would like to welcome back our very own IsoWhey Chef… my guest blogger Janine Royce, who is asking the question, do we really know the nutrient quality of the vegetables we buy? read on to find out!…

We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat” and tuned into television campaigns advising us to eat at least 2 servings fruit and 5 serves vegetables per day. These are good guidelines to ensure we are maintaining a healthy diet, but are we really getting any nutrition from our fruit and vegetable intake? Questions that come to mind…

how long have they been on the shelves?

are they fresh?

where have they come from?

Are our fresh fruits and vegetable losing their nutrients?…

By the time your fruits and vegetables have reached your kitchen they could be weeks, if not months old. They have travelled a considerable distance, been through processing, packaging and ultimately end up in storage. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s food descriptors guideline “fresh” refers to food put on sale as early as possible and as close to the state it would be in at the time of picking, catching or producing.

Hmmm, I decided to do some research and thought it best to get back to grassroots… as I began to poke around I found most varieties of fruit and vegetables are chosen for their yield, growth rate and ability to go the distance when transported. This comes at a price which means nutritional quality is often compromised. Growing methods can also affect vitamin and mineral content. Synthetic chemicals, such as fertilisers and pesticides,  speed up processes and don’t allow time for plants to absorb the nutrients. Further to this fruits and vegetables are usually picked before they are ripe which can effect the nutrient content. Fruits and vegetables require careful handling after they are picked to prevent bruising and careless handling chemically alters plant structures which further reduces the nutrients.  

Another issue that can impact on nutritional value of food is storage. Many seasonal items are stored for months to extend availability when out of season.  This causes loss of texture, appearance, and flavour. Not to mention produce are sprayed with anti-fungals to preserve them and prevent mould, and chemical additives such as 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) to extend shelf life. These pre-washed and pre-packaged salads and vegetables that you now see popping up, are really sealed little bags filled with chemicals to make them stay looking fresh long after the nutritional value has gone. 

 

So you can see why this raises big questions! How ARE we getting our vitamins and minerals?…How can you make sure you are consuming food that is contributing to your short and long term health? …What can you do?…well

HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE BUZZ PHRASE “FOOD MILES”?…

It refers to the distance or miles that your food has travelled from the place it was grown to your table. If food has had to travel long distances then it is going to have the negative implications as discussed above.

SEEK OUT LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS…

they are a great source of seasonal local produce with minimal food miles, this way you know it has not been hanging around for months and you are participating in sustainable eating! 

BUY DIRECT FROM THE GROWER…

source out any local farmers in your city, I know when I drive to visit my friend near Wisemans Ferry, Sydney, I can buy direct from peoples houses who have stalls out the front. There are also home delivery services providing fresh products direct from farmers battling against the large multinationals by delivering a broad range of products direct to the consumer. You can also join up with your local food co-op which provides foods from local farmers.

SWITCH TO ORGANIC FOOD…

the soil is more nourished and there is now research to back up that organic foods have higher levels of nutrients, are grown without any nasty additives & preservatives and you are supporting small traditional farmers.

 

JOIN A COMMUNITY GARDEN…

where you have access to fresh nutritious food, its local, you know where the food has come from and how it was grown. You are reducing food miles! Community gardens also have great social benefits and improve the urban environment. 

 So now we know what to look out for, you can make a real difference to the health of your family – and discover that there ARE vegetables that ARE really healthy!!

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