Why ‘gluten-free’, ‘vegan’, ‘local’ or ‘organic’ does not automatically mean ‘good for you’

A couple of months ago I was in NYC for a conference and I went to the Whole Foods at the bottom of the building for lunch. As I waited in line for a tea, I took a good look at my surroundings. All around me were signs promoting local, vegan and gluten free products – “local pastries”, “vegan cupcakes”, “gluten free cookies”, “organic crisps”. Standing there, taking it all in, I had a realisation about the power of labels and how much of an impact words have on our choices.

Many people shopping in that store would have seen those labels and automatically presumed those products were healthy. In the ever-changing world of nutrition and bombarded by a proliferation of messages, these are the things we’re currently being told are good for you (just as we were educated about ‘low-fat’ or ‘high-fibre’ foods in the past). And yes, organic produce may be higher in nutrients. There are some people who do have a sensitivity to gluten and removing it from their diets has been beneficial to them. For environmental and ethical reasons, buying local produce can be a positive thing. A vegan approach has had health benefits for a number of people.

However, just because a product has one of these labels doesn’t mean it’s nutritious and the reality is, we need to be curious about the food we eat (like animals who naturally sniff food before they consume it). We need to be looking at the what’s actually inside these ‘healthy’ products and we need to question what we are putting inside our bodies.Continue Reading..

Eating Seasonally – Fun at the Farmers Market

In the last year, I’ve found myself a new weekend hobby – wandering around my local farmers market. When I started taking more of an interest in what I was eating and where it was coming from, I discovered that I was lucky enough to have a farmers market a short walk away from where I live. Since then, I’ve loved going whenever I can.

Initially, the main draw was the idea of being able to buy fresh organic fruit and vegetables nearby. What it soon became though, was a weekly education in appreciating the value in eating seasonally. Nature is amazing in that it provides the right foods for us when we need it, and a farmers market is where this comes to life right in from of your eyes. E.g. in the winter, when it’s cold, there are a proliferation of root vegetables which are perfect ingredients in the warming soups and stews that are ideal for cold weather. Then in summer, when it’s a bit warmer, that’s when the fruit comes out, full of water to refresh and help you cool down. So, what’s on offer at the market changes throughout the year, reflecting what’s in season and meaning you’re kind of forced to prepare food that’s actually giving your body what it needs to cope with the weather. Right now, there’s no fruit, and there hasn’t been for the last month or so, and the stalls are filled with squashes, parsnips, carrots, so many different varieties of potato, turnips and greens. But with the coming of spring, that’s soon to change.Continue Reading..

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