So what can we do? Start by incorporating fresh, unprocessed food into your diet. If you can, find local and freshly-harvested food, as studies support that the nutrient content of food is higher when harvested and eaten fresh (Postharvest Biology and Technology). Standard grocery store produce can be harvested weeks early to allow time for transportation and sitting on the shelf. By comparison, food allowed to grow longer contains more nutrients and you get to enjoy the fully matured flavor. These fresh foods also tend to be nutrient rich. For example, dark leafy greens, especially kale and spinach, are packed full of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and antioxidants that aid in immune health. Additionally, the flavor and nutrient content of meat, cheese, and eggs reflect the diets and lifestyles of those animals. For example, grass-fed beef contains a high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids (an important antioxidant) and essential amino acids, when compared with grain-fed or grain-finished beef.
Sounds simple right? Where just simply eating more fresh, unprocessed food sounds easy there are barriers that keep us from doing what we know we should. These common barriers include:
One commonly overlooked simple action to help with overcoming common barriers and eating a more nutritious diet is taking a cooking class or attending a cooking demonstration. There are always new ingredients to try and ways to prepare foods that are sure to surprise and delight even the most experienced home cook.
You don’t always have to go far to find a new learning opportunity. For example, Countryside offers Cooking with Countryside demonstrations, with recipes and samples to take home, at farmer’s markets to educate customers on ways to prepare the fresh ingredients sold at the market. These cooking demonstrations and events such as Countryside’s Annual Tomato Tasting are an opportunity for customers to literally taste the difference between fresh organic/naturally raised produce and standard grocery store produce. The flavor is noticeably different in food that is harvested at peak ripeness because the sugars have had the maximum amount of time to develop.
At Judson’s South Franklin Circle campus located in Chagrin Falls, Chef Chris Koshar understands the value of fresh ingredients and the common barriers to healthful eating. Chef Chris and his team have established their own culinary garden and they constantly reinvigorate menus with seasonal offerings to ensure the most flavorful dishes. In addition, he has developed a program at South Franklin Circle where residents can take advantage of freshly prepared food, in the comfort of their own home without the fuss of pots, pans, or dishes. Residents can utilize this service by picking up pre-packaged to-go meals at our Community Center and taking them home to enjoy.
Fueling your body with nutritious food is an important way to support healthy aging. By choosing fresh food as opposed to processed, and exploring more creative options for cooking – you can experience the many benefits to a healthy eating lifestyle at any age.
Countryside is a nonprofit organization located in Peninsula, Ohio, with a focus on local food, food access, and conservation-based farming. Countryside works with over 80 small businesses through 3 farmers’ markets and a year-round public market. The markets are a great family-friendly event where you can find ready-to-eat foods, fresh vegetables and fruits, breads, baked goods, eggs, cheese, meat, jams, grains, and a lot more! Additionally, there are vendors selling items such as natural body products, artwork, fiber arts, and plants.