Nutrition Angel vs. Green Devil?

I live in the middle of a tropical jungle that is dense with a spectrum of life. Yet, in hopes of staying healthy, I often find myself ordering the latest, greatest exotic supplements and superfoods online. These foods travel thousands of miles before making it to my jungle kitchen. As I deliberate over this situation, I’ve realized that I seem to have an angel and a devil on my shoulders. On one shoulder sits a nutrition angel who tells me to put my health first; always making me priority. On the other shoulder I have a sweet little green devil that nags me to live in harmony with the natural world. It seems that the environmentalist and nutrition freak in me are regularly battling it out. But does this have to be the case?

Many of you who are committed to making the highest quality food choices are also likely to be focused on living green and doing good by the planet. Unfortunately, as you go deeper into nutrition and living green you might also find that these two philosophies are frequently opposed; much of the plethora of exotic superfoods and supplements don’t exactly fit into a philosophy of sustainable living. This might put some strain on your moral compass.

Take krill oil for example. Krill oil has recently been touted as the highest quality omega-3 supplement, the most absorbable by the human body, the most anti-inflammatory, the highest in unique antioxidants, and on it goes. The health angel on my shoulder enjoys a little victory dance, excited to nourish my body with this new discovery. Yet on my other shoulder, the little green devil gets out its pitchfork and starts poking me, pointing out that the world’s ocean health organizations and their buddies at National Geographic have expressed significant concerns regarding the harvesting of krill. It seems that blatant over-harvesting of this unique creature has resulted in a severe drop in a primary food source for other ocean life. What are the whales going to eat? When I consider this, in addition to the long distance journey that the krill oil has to make to end up in my jungle kitchen, I’m torn.

As I grapple with this dilemma and wonder if there’s an intrinsic opposition between nutrition and environment, I’m delighted to have stumbled upon a practical solution that will satisfy both my angel and my devil.

Locavore, localism, localist… whatever you want to call it, when it comes to food, this is a glowing middle ground that offers both nutritional and environmental benefit. Many of us are aware that local foods make sense from an environmental perspective (fewer food miles always get a thumbs up). What’s really cool is that the modern nutritional world is coming around to the importance of focusing on local foods as well, not for environmental reasons, but for health. A variety of traditional nutritional theories such as Ayurvedic medicine and Macrobiotics put a very strong emphasis on the energetics and health value of local foods.

After all, doesn’t it make sense that our bodies would thrive off of the foods that are growing in harmony with the season and environment that we’re living in? Our current season (hooray for summer!) is a great time to consider this. Local produce is bountiful, providing nourishment that is energetically aligned with the surrounding environment. Local foods compliment the rhythms of your body as it adapts to the ever-changing seasons. There’s nothing like taking a big juicy bite out of an apple that you picked at a local organic orchard, is there?

Panicked by the idea of eating 100% local? Don’t worry, I know what you mean! You don’t need to stop eating all of those exotic foods that you love! We’re lucky to live in a time where with the click of a button we can enjoy the healing qualities of a diverse range of foods from all over the world. Yet, it’s important to remind ourselves to not abuse this luxury.

Need some ideas on ways to go more local in your area? Here are four simple tips to start walking the holistic-living talk and keep both your angel and devil happy.

  • Whenever possible, go to the farmer’s market or join a CSA. Start a new and healthy relationship with where your food is coming from! Look into a community supported agriculture system (CSA) in your area. A CSA allows you to buy a share in a garden. This garden or farm then supplies you with weekly deliveries (often to your doorstep) of the produce that is currently in season in your area.
  • Look for a superfood that is local to your region! You might be surprised at what you find. I’ve been thrilled to find that chia seeds and nopal (prickly pear) cactus are local to my region of Mexico. What healthy choices are local to your region?
  • If possible, grow your own! This may be a challenge in some areas, but growing your own food is as local as it gets. Something as simple as growing your own sprouts is a great place to start.
  • Look for eco-certifications on supplements and superfoods you purchase online.  If you’re going to buy a supplement that is from a faraway place, it’s best to choose a product and company that respects the natural world.

I hope that you’re inspired to continue your journey of holistic living! Need some support with holistic living? Check out my free guide to start listening to your body!

It’s important to remember that holistic living starts within.

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