Shopping can be so difficult these days. We are told to look for labels like organic, local, grass-fed, gluten-free, extra virgin, free-range, wild-caught and free-trade. Between all of those demands, finding good quality food can be exhausting. Sometimes the search for suitable food is seemingly impossible and ultimately boils down to the choice between the lesser of two evils. In a world where food markets are mostly filled with cheap, poor quality food, it can feel like swimming upstream…
But before you give up and settle, I wanted to give you health conscious people some encouragement to continue to seek out the best possible food you can find. To give some context for this task, consider how difficult the task of finding good food was for our ancient ancestors. Wether we daydream about the lives of peoples 200 years or 2000 years ago, we can be certain that the search for food was much more difficult than it is today. In addition, the search likely took much more time each day. Imagine how challenging is to gather and identify a seasonal 4-leaf plant to make a bitter salad. Think of how many other plants look similar, have 4 leaves, but are actually poisonous. Picking the wrong plants could cause stomach pain or worse symptoms if you mistakenly eat it.
Wild mushrooms can also be hunted and gathered as a good source of protein. But hunting for mushrooms is notoriously difficult and can even be fatal. Most wild mushrooms are poisonous and the ones that are edible often look very similar to the ones that will kill you.
Lastly, there is hunting for fish and animals. Here, at least we can be relatively certain that most animals are safe to eat. But the matter of hunting them down is another undertaking. It could take a well-seasoned hunter all day to land some meat, and even then hunters often come home empty-handed.
I write all of this so that we can take a moment to think back to the trials of a more ancient way of life. A way of life where selecting and preparing food takes hours each day. Through this lens of food hardship in ancient times, it may make it a bit easier to take a minute to read the food label, choose gluten-free or spend the extra couple of dollars on wild-caught fish. With this in mind, it can be a joy to drive a few blocks further to shop at the organic market, instead for the regular big-chain supermarkets. With this in mind, it may be a bit easier to take the time to chop and prepare beautiful organic vegetables, instead of opting for some easy processed food. These small efforts are almost inconsequential compared to hiking up a mountain to find a small harvest of bitter greens or waiting behind a tree all day with spear.
So stick to your values and find the best quality foods available. Spend a few extra dollars for the organic. Make a trip to the local co-op or farmer’s market once a week. Talk to farmers, get informed, read the ingredients, or even better, purchase foods that don’t need ingredients (like spinach, for example). Get curious about new foods and notice how different foods make you feel both while eating them and for hours afterwards.
Wishing you endless fields fo organic, local, grass-fed, gluten-free, extra virgin, free-range and free-trade deliciousness! It is worth the effort.