No, it's not fried chicken, black eyed peas, candied sweet potatoes or mac 'n' cheese but rather a helpful acronym to remember when buying fresh produce.
Spring is in full swing and we're all trying to get outside more and be as healthy as possible. Following the S.O.U.L. method will help ensure you meet your healthy food goals. Let's explore why you should eat S.O.U.L. food.
S - Seasonal - It's best to buy fresh produce when it's in season. Out-of-season produce is picked before it's ripe to allow shipping and transport time. Seasonal produce is picked at the peak of freshness and is so much tastier. And, some studies suggest that when plants are allowed to mature on the parent plant, they are much more nutritious.
Find out what's in season near you: https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/
O - Organic - Buy organic when possible. Why? Because it's better for your health. Pesticides can wreak havoc on the body and can cause issues ranging from cancer to hormonal disruption to neurological problems. If you are concerned about the cost of organic produce there is good news - not all produce has to be organic. Each year the Environmental Working Group comes out with its list of the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen". The "Clean Fifteen" have the lowest levels of pesticides. Again, organic is best, but there is some flexibility here.
U - Unprocessed - This should be the standard for any food you consume. Unprocessed or minimally processed. Highly, ultra processed foods can lead to a number of chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Highly processed foods are usually high in saturated fats, sodium and sugar, are high in calories and low in nutrients. They taste good, but it's not wise to include these foods in your daily diet. If you eat meat, buy unprocessed, free range or regenerative meats (when available) and eat a variety of whole grains, leafy greens and fresh fruits and vegetables.
L - Local - Eating locally grown produce (and food in general!) just makes good sense. It supports local farms and growers, keeps funds within the community, and, it means your fruits and veggies did not have to travel far to get to you, resulting in fresher, better tasting food. Local growers can tell you how the food was grown, and when you but produce from them, you can ask them directly about the practices they use in growing. This is another way to know what's in season because they will be growing it!
Looking for a local Farmer's Market, Farm, or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) near you? Simply type in your zip code at https://www.localharvest.org/ to find one.