The Oak Park Farmer’s Market starts its season this weekend and I can’t wait! For me there is nothing better than being able to spend a lovely summer morning strolling through rows of fresh fruit and veggies. Farmer’s markets provide communities with a perfect opportunity to buy fresh, local food.
Why is this important? Because when you eat clean, fresh food you’re doing your body a great service. By eating fresh, unprocessed foods you are providing your body with vital nutrients and avoiding unnecessary chemicals. As an added bonus, by eating clean and cutting out sugary, fatty and overly processed foods, you will have a better chance of maintaining a healthy weight. Really, it’s a no-brainer.
So, what does “clean-eating” mean exactly? Basically, when you “eat clean” you aim to consume unprocessed foods, including fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein. There’s a saying I came across once that read “if it doesn’t have a mother, or didn’t come from the ground, don’t eat it.” I can’t quite recall who said it, but I love it! It’s a simple rule to remember.
If you take stroll through your supermarket and select items at random you are likely to find a list of ingredients that you can barely pronounce. You pick up a box of 100-calorie snacks and the ingredients read like a foreign language. You channel your inner Liz Lemon and think to yourself, “What in the what?!”
Along with the foods you can’t pronounce, you may come across some more familiar ingredients that you are better able to understand, such as sugar, corn syrup, and saturated/trans fats just to name a few. But that doesn’t make these foods any better for you. These foods are not good for your body and play a big part in the nation's obesity epidemic. Don’t just take my word for it. According to the Harvard School of Public Health’s Obesity Prevention Source:
“What’s become the typical Western diet—frequent, large meals high in refined grains, red meat, unhealthy fats, and sugary drinks—plays one of the largest roles in obesity. Foods that are lacking in the Western diet—whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts—seem to help with weight control, and also help prevent chronic disease.” (Obesity Prevention Source. 18 May, 2012. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes)
I will admit that it’s hard to pick through all the “junk” and walk out of the store with bags filled with clean foods. It’s even harder when you haven’t prepared or done the research on what’s in different types of processed foods.
That is why I love the farmer’s market. There is no guessing involved. You have a beautiful selection of fresh fruit, veggies and meats, as well as locally produced cheeses and preserves. It’s like a smorgasbord of healthy eating! So, this summer I challenge you to eat clean. Start by visiting the farmer’s market! Avoid the guesswork when it comes to choosing clean foods, while also supporting your local community. It’s a win-win!