One simple acronym will help you choose nutrient dense food at the grocery store. The first thing they taught us at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition was NAG – Natural, Alive, Good Quality. It is a guideline when grocery shopping. Living in Canada, and in today’s society, it’s often difficult to find great options for the food we eat. Our cold winters make it difficult to acquire fresh produce. Our fast paced lives create time restraints in our daily lives therefore making it difficult to grow or preserve our own food. Here is an explanation of NAG.
Is it processed? Did it come in a bag or a box? Did they strip the product into different its different parts and in that process was it stripped of some nutrients? Ie White sugar or table salt. Nature is extremely intelligent and intuitive. In the body there are often functions that require specific minerals and vitamins. In nature these vitamins or minerals show up together in a whole food. It’s engineer that way. A natural synergy. For example, they say phytochemicals in the apple flesh work best with the phytochemicals in the peel to reduce risk of cancer. Rule of thumb, its always best to eat the food in its whole form. Keep to the outside aisle and you should be safe.
How long did it take to get from the farm to your plate? During our Canadian winters this can be difficult. There are different ways to preserve food, some better than others. Freezing, fermenting, drying, and canning are all great options to ensure the product is at its highest nutrient level. By picking the product as it ripens in the field you are able to preserve these nutrients. Of course, you do lose some of the nutrients in the process but it is often better than buying produce shipped from the States in the middle of winter.
Try growing your own food during the growing season. Plant a garden plot or even some planters on the patio. If you don’t have time or don’t have a green thumb explore and discover our local farmers. Learn who they are and what their values are in their farming practices. Get together with friends and learn our traditional methods of preserving food. Make a social gathering of it!
How was it produced? Did they use pesticides? Was it irradiated? Irradiating food occurs when food is brought across the boarder. Food is irradiated to destroy bacteria, molds and yeast, which cause food to spoil, and also to control insects. Unfortunately, some nutrients are lost in the process. They say its minimal but if you had the choice would you choose the food that hasn’t been irradiated? For further info on irradiated food check out https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/food-irradiation
“To date, the following products have been approved by Health Canada for irradiation: potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, whole and ground spices, and dehydrated seasoning preparations.” – Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Did the farmer use sustainable practices to produced the product? Does your farmer use methods that preserve the topsoil and the nutrients available for generations to come? It is a fact that our top soil is depleting along with the nutrients in the soil, therefore our vegetables aren’t as nutrient dense as they once were. This is why it’s so important for our farmers to use practices that protect and preserve our land.
Get to know your farmer and the methods they use! One way to change how our system works is by putting your money towards sustainable food is. If there is no market for the cheap, unsustainable food they will not produce it.
I hope this has helped your understanding of how to choose nutrient dense food. Remember that many small changes can have a big impact over time. For more tips on pantry staples check out Amanda Miller’s post https://amandamillernutrition.com/2017/12/17/10-pantry-staples-for-holistic-health/ Happy shopping!
I wish you health and happiness!
Sheriesse Baker, RHN