pave paradise, put up a parking lot

image Every time I see spots on my apples, I think of the song “Big Yellow Taxi”. Not the original version, but the Counting Crows cover. You see spots more often with organic varieties, especially when purchased in bulk from Costco where careful inspection of each fruit doesn’t happen.

I know what happens when an apple starts to go bad. There’s logic behind the saying, “don’t let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch“. The bad apple releases gas at an accelerated rate, spreading a contagious spottiness from one apple to the next. The gas released accelerates ripening, so the apples reach their prime well before their expected “best by” date. That’s the basic idea, no? At least that’s what I remember from… oh, let’s say high school biology. Really, it’s just one of those random facts that’s stuck in my head for no apparent reason. But it stays… a permanent fixture in my mind, staking it’s ground and refusing to budge when other useful information tries to take it’s place. “Go somewhere else!”, it says, “No room here.”

There was a point to this. Other than giving my thoughts their own overly controlling personalities, that is. I often wonder about the nutritional value of fresh produce purchased from a grocery store. How old is it already by the time we bring it home? My experience has been that organic produce meets it’s demise far sooner than it’s non organic counterparts, so how much benefit are we losing? When shopping at a large supermarket, would we be better off purchasing frozen varieties? Organic aside, let’s look at conventional produce. How long did it take to get to the store? How long will it sit in your kitchen before it’s used? Would we get more nutrients from the stuff that was picked and flash frozen the same day?

The journey over the past week has convinced me of one thing – I don’t get enough raw veggies. Most of the veggies I eat are cooked in some fashion, save the occasional salad with dinner. One of the documentaries I watched said that when veggies are cooked, nutrients are lost and your body can’t assimilate them as well. In some cases, your body may actually try fight against the food, recognizing it as an invader instead of the healthful meal you’re trying to deliver. Crazy, right? Then, I found this article that counters this argument. Some vegetables are actually more nutritious when cooked. What to believe? My thought? More produce in general is good – lots of raw, some cooked. Sounds like a plan, right?

Am I a sucker for the propaganda? Maybe. I’d like to think I’m a logical person, weighing out arguments; able to dispel truth from sensationalism. But I’m sure I don’t always get it right. I try to make informed decisions and get my facts straight before recirculating info back to the general public. But, I’m sure there are times that erroneous things make it past my filter.

I’m not talking about differences of opinion here. We could go back and forth on so many subjective issues that it’s not even worth stating examples. I’m talking about issues where seemingly legitimate people present a valid argument, supported by facts and data. I guess I could say that I’m a sucker for facts and data. Where it seems somewhat black and white. It’s unfortunate that statistics can be so easily skewed, but again, that’s something I try to keep in mind when new facts are presented to me.

So when a question like this comes up, regarding which produce is really best, it’s hard for me to come to an answer that settles well. There are too many variables for my brain examine. The logical answer seems be to to buy local and organic. Farmers markets and the like. I’m sure some study out there will discredit that approach as well. Besides, the reality of that happening consistently for me is slim, though, and it’s not really answering my question. Perhaps the answer is already out there on the internet and I just haven’t scoured long enough to find it. This article and this one do a decent job of touching the edges of the question, but it’s not thorough enough for my satisfaction.

Planning to sign up for our CSA box delivery again. At least that way we’ll have some fresh, organic produce coming to us that way, and I don’t even have to head to the farmers market to get it.

This one got a little wordy today. Apologies.


4 Responses to “pave paradise, put up a parking lot”

  1. 1 ingrid parmeter January 17, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    I’ve wondered some of these things too. What dismisses my arguments is my desire to make things easiest for me while reinforcing my core values. I really like the idea of keeping small family farms functioning. I really like the idea that people out there are still growing things in the ground. I want to support them— that’s tops for me. We are lucky to have a farmer’s market nearby 6 months out of the year, and I started a really good relationship with a farmer near Portland who does a fantastic delivery service for the stuff that I can’t grow in our yard.
    The buying local thing has gotten harder though. We don’t have a year round growing season that provides the variety that one might like. At the same time, I feel embarrassed to demand things shipped from miles away at great cost to our environment. So slowly our family has begun eating more like peasants in medieval northern England. Come winter, it is a lot of parsnips, squash, and potatoes around here. One side of my head says, “Eat more greens in the winter!”. The other side says—people have lived like this for centuries. Certainly we too will survive.

    • 2 suzyness February 3, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      Laziness is a poor excuse for me to not hit up local farmers markets. The universe must have been looking out for me, forcing me in the right direction, because last week we stumbled upon a year round one at our usual Tuesday meet up spot. We’re usually there in the afternoons on Tuesdays and the farmers market is only mornings, but it’s a convenient one for us to go to!

      I found a local farm that is pesticide free, but not certified organic, so they have cheaper costs, but healthier local product. Plus, they had yummy and unique veggies like bok choy, which I love. that’s actually what drew me in to their stand. I also got some kale, chard, yellow beets, carrots and the most gorgeous broccoli. I spent $9 and walked away with a bag of food. Awesome.

  2. 3 cynthia March 15, 2012 at 2:49 AM

    suzy, on the raw/cooked thing…i’ve read the contradictory information about this, too. the trick is to believe everything (haha) and don’t go to extremes. raw food contains natural enzymes that are good for you but these get destroyed when cooked, most cooked foods often have more macro nutrients available, because cooking breaks down those cell walls and makes it easier for your body to get to them. in addition, some vitamins are only fat-soluble, so you actually need to eat fat with your veggies to get the vitamins, like your salad with dressing. the dressing isn’t just for taste, the fat and vinegar (raw vinegar especially) help you to digest and get the most out of the food you eat. foods that have been naturally fermented are another source of enzymes (because they aren’t “cooked”) and nutrients, and probiotics that help you digest better. these would be pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut…

    so basically, eat lots of vegetables, and try to eat a little bit of every kind, cooked, raw, fermented with every meal and you’ll get all the benefits of each type, and have make sure to have some healthy fats. BTW, do you have the Sally Fallon cookbook “Nourishing Traditions”? You should check it out. It changed the way I thought about the typical “common sense” health recommendations, and the way I approach fats, meat and starches, and although i don’t follow it 100% (who really could!?) it has so much cool information, and some really good recipes. the fermented bean dip recipe is good. can’t wait to get back there and make a standing weekly date with you to hit up the farmers market!

    • 4 suzyness March 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM

      Can’t wait for you to get back here! C loves the farmer’s markets, and I’m sure B will love them, too! The farmers here love C, giving her lots of samples and praises. :) It’s attention overload for her, and she totally eats it up.

      I tend to forget about fermented foods, not because I dislike them, but they just aren’t in our regular food rotation. I should try to add them more. I read a great crock pot recipe for kraut with sausages… where you just add both to the pot in the morning, put it on low, and eat when you get home from work. I <3 simple recipes.

      I'll see if our library has the book you recommended… always interested in new food reads! It's all so intriguing. Ben calls it a "body hack" any time we do something different that produces interesting results. Like the juice fast, or the low carb thing… all fall under "body hack" categories. Maybe I should make that a tag on my blog… :)

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Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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