Preparing your own food requires you to be mindful. Cooking with whole foods can have a big impact on how you think about food and eating. In tandem with shopping for these foods, these two things can have a profound impact on your health. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to be a talented chef—in fact, simple preparations are some of the best.
One of the best ways to get in touch with the food you’re buying and eating is to buy it from the people who grew it. Farmers markets are a great way to learn about what’s in season and even how to prepare it (if you ask the farmer, I bet they’ll give you some pointers!). Another topic to bring up with your farmers is whether the food is organically grown. In addition to being locally grown—which often means more nutrients, as the nutritional integrity dissipates after food has been picked—food at farmers markets is often organically farmed, but the farms themselves aren’t officially organically certified.
Organic food is food that is grown or raised without pesticides or harsh chemicals. While studies on the benefits of organic food haven’t reached definitive status, we do know that eating organic food can provide more nutrients to the body.
Organic food is also naturally non-GMO (or genetically modified organisms), meaning its structural DNA that evolved to work with our bodies wasn’t tampered with. GMOs are foods that are altered through science to make them grow more efficiently, but with these modifications, the nutrients may be compromised.
I understand buying organic can sometimes be more expensive than buying conventional, but the good news is, you don’t have to buy everything organic. Look to the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists to determine which foods you can get away with buying conventionally without worrying that you’re taking on too many chemicals.
Cooking and preparing meals with these foods can be as simple as a smoothie or a salad; don’t make it hard on yourself, especially if you’re just starting out.