Vote With Your Fork
“Vote with Your Fork” A Nutritionist’s Point of View
By Kc Wright, MS, RD, LD
Living in today’s global society is fantastic in that we can chat online instantly with someone halfway across the world, and enjoy mangoes in New Hampshire in February. And yet, all that glitters is not gold.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence which suggests that essential nutrients in our food supply are rapidly declining. Several reasons for this phenomenon include mass production of livestock products, large-scale agri-business, refined plant and animal foods, and the methods themselves in which our food is produced or manufactured. For example, eggs from free-range hens have been shown to contain 30% more vitamin E and vitamin B12, and 50% more Folic Acid than other eggs. Beef from cattle raised in feedlots on growth hormones and high-grain diets has lower levels of vitamins A, D, E, and beta-carotene, and twice as much fat as grass-fed beef.
Consider that the average supermarket apple travels 1500 miles from farm to table. Yet most fruits reach best eating quality and peak nutrition when fully ripened on the tree or plant. If fruits or vegetables are left to ripen to maturity, they will not likely withstand the harsh handling of long distance travel. If picked too early, consumers are left to compromise optimum maturity for nutritional value.
When I encourage people to choose local fruits and vegetables, lean animal products, organic milk, etc. touting the nutritional benefits of these foods is often my second most successful sales pitch. I find what really convinces people to buy foods and eat at restaurants that use local ingredients, is that they just plain taste better.
Saving open space, supporting the local economy and better nutritional value are all just icing on the cake!
Kc Wright, MS, RD, LD is on the committee for the NH Farm-to-Restaurant Initiative, consults in Cardiac Rehab at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and teaches at UNH’s College for Lifelong Learning.
For Further Reading:
” Food Politics, Marion Nestle
” Hope’s Edge, Frances Moore Lappe
” This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader, Joan Dye Gussow