Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of our diet, giving us the vitamins and nutrients we need to lead healthy lives. They are important for combatting many health issues and help us to have healthy eyes and skin, healthy teeth and bones, a healthy heart, and a healthy digestive system. The alternative to fresh foods are often processed foods, which are oftentimes more affordable (and sometimes taste better!), but aren’t able to give our bodies what they need to be healthy.
Processed foods tend to have high levels of sugar, sodium, and fats, making them unhealthy for our bodies. They also tend to be lacking in the nutritional values that our bodies need from our meals. This is because, in order to make meals more processed and able to survive longer shelf lives, many foods are stripped of their basic nutrients, like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Individuals that consume higher amounts of processed foods are at risk for many health problems, such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Fresh foods also contain more nutrients the sooner they are eaten after being harvested. Much of our produce in grocery stores has to travel many miles to get to us – such as tomatoes and berries from California, peaches from South Carolina, spinach from Arizona, and bananas from Hawaii. When produce has to travel such far distances, they don’t reach shelves until several days and so they have to be picked well before they are ripe. This prevents the produce from reaching its fullest potential of nutrients. This is another reason why eating locally, from farmer’s markets and local growers is better for us. By taking advantage of the plethora of fresh, local produce in Washington, we can not only support local farmers, but also enjoy fresh foods and take better care of our bodies.
The Harbor District Market is a great place to start searching for fresh, locally grown produce from Beaufort County. It has many great options for fresh food that grocery and convenience stores can’t offer. Shopping locally, cooking more meals at home, and making gradual changes to your diets are great ways to start eating fresher and healthier foods!