Healthy Food Sources
Nutritionists concur that eating organic, local, seasonal foods is the healthiest possible diet. However, since these ideal foods are not always available in our neighborhood grocery stores, it is worth the effort to locate other sources, including grocery stores offering healthy whole foods, co-ops, local farmers’ markets, farm stands and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. CSA program members support a local farm by purchasing a share (also known as a “subscription” or “membership”) in return for a weekly box of freshly picked vegetables and fruits, eggs, dairy or meat products. This is often a very economical method of sourcing quality food.
Produce certified “organic” by the USDA is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, biosolids (sewage sludge) or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and will not have been irradiated. Recent studies have found that many common genetically modified (GM) foods are contaminated with concerning levels of pesticide residues. This is not surprising, as GM crops are engineered to withstand multiple pesticide applications.
If a complete switch to organic foods is not possible, try to purchase the organic version of those fruits and vegetables that your child eats most often. When choosing conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, select those containing the lowest pesticide residues.
As a general rule for shopping in grocery stores, stick to the outside aisles, where whole, fresh foods are most often found.
Note: The US Department of Agriculture has new rules for labeling genetically modified or GM foods, now endorsing the term “bio-engineered,” and disallowing any language about genetically modified or gene-edited foods on packaging. Instead, they will require QR (quick response) codes on labels, which can be read only by consumers who use a smart phone, or an 800 number to call for more information. Along with many other exceptions and exemptions, this disappointing new labeling regulation will certainly cause consumer confusion when trying to avoid foods containing genetically modified ingredients.
Healthy Food Resources
The demand for better food sources is growing and if you look around a bit, you will probably be pleasantly surprised. Among your best choices are farmers’ markets and CSA programs. Localharvest.org has an extensive listing.
The Environmental Working Group publishes an excellent online guide to the most (and least) contaminated foods, which they classify asa the "Dirty Dozen and the "Clean Fifteen."