Summer is the prefect time to take a look at what you are eating and make some simple changes toward developing better eating habits. Especially those of us who live in cold winter climates, many use the layers of clothing required to keep us warm to hide the chub we put on eating all the rich comfort foods of winter while being cooped up inside rather than out being active.
Then summer hits and we have to peel off the layers only to note that out favorite summer BBQing shirts don’t quite sit as comfortably across our bellies as they did last summer. Luckily, with summer comes a renewed hope for a more active, outdoor lifestyle as well as opportunities to easily transform our diets into something our bodies will appreciate.
One of the best perks of summer when you live through a cold winter is tasting fresh fruits and vegetables again. In the winter, our fruits and veggies are transported from such far reaches of the continent that, by the time they reach our produce sections, all of the flavour has been leeched out of them with preservatives and time. While we are lucky to have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables despite our cold climates, the bottom line is that fresh garden vegetables that are grown locally taste like completely different foods.
If you are so inclined, planting your own garden is a great way to experience fresh vegetables that you have worked hard to grow yourself. Not only is gardening great for your body (you won’t believe how stiff your butt and thighs will be after a couple of days in the garden), you get to taste the fruits of your own labour. Literally.
If you are not inclined to jump into the garden, the best alternative is summer farmer’s markets. Farmer’s markets have been a prevalent part of small town culture forever, but now it is also difficult to find a large city that does not have at least a few farmer’s markets in various neighbourhoods. The differences between the fruit and veggies at your grocery store and that at the farmer’s market are many.
First, at farmer’s markets, you buy directly form the producer, so you are not paying for the same transportation or packaging costs that you are at the local store. Also, you are buying locally, which supports the local economy.
In terms of how a farmer’s market can help your health, the farmer’s market is a great place to find and experiment with organic meats, fruits, and vegetables (as well as prepared products like homemade jams and sauces) that you may not find at the local grocery store.
Homemade prepared products have less preservatives and are not as processed as the store-bought variety. Organic foods can be more expensive than non-organic, but again, you are buying directly form the producer. For instance, the first time I tried bison meat (which is lower in fat than both beef and pork and higher in protein/per calorie than beef, pork and chicken) was at a farmer’s market, and although there are many local producers where I live, it is very difficult to find in local supermarkets.