Stop wasting your money on greens.

Stop wasting your money on greens. 

The role of a farmer has changed dramatically in the last few hundred years. What was once a neighborhood supply chain supported by subsistence farmers is now dominated by thousand -acre industrial operations that bring food across borders.

In order to accommodate the newfound distance between farms and the mouths they feed, produce enters a long distance logistics operation capable of shipping greens from California to North Carolina or fruit from India to Texas.

While the feat of transporting the many tons of produce is no doubt impressive, food waste is skyrocketing, food quality is plummeting, and food security is almost nonexistent.

The reliance on Big Ag for food is more than troubling, it’s impractical and a failing enterprise.

The food you purchase from a large supermarket is almost completely devoid of any nutrients it had in the first place.

Many consumers already recognize that BBQ chips with maltodextrin and hydrogenated vegetable oils don’t have a lot of essential vitamins and minerals. 

Unfortunately, most consumers don’t recognize the spinach purchased from your supermarket only has about 50% of the most crucial nutrients remaining. 

You read that correctly. 

More often than not, your supermarket spinach has already lost half of its most critical nutrients by the time you put it in your cart.

A group of researchers have put supermarket vegetables to the test. 

These researchers, publishing out of Pennsylvania State University, started by testing the nutrient values of freshly cut spinach. Subsequently, samples were stored in closed packaging at 4 ℃, 10 ℃, and 20 ℃. The samples were tested at 1 or 2 day intervals for enzyme, folate, and carotenoid content. 

On day 4, 6, or 8 at 20 ℃ , 10 ℃ , and 4 ℃ average folate retention was 53% of the original amount. Only a week after harvest and packaging, refrigerated spinach lost more than a quarter of its original folate content.

After 8 days of refrigeration, the same spinach samples only contained 54% of their total carotenoid content. If kept at slightly warmer temperatures, that number dropped to almost 40% of original numbers.

If you aren’t familiar, carotenoids like beta-carotene are responsible for healthy cell growth, immune function, and eye health. These compounds are converted into vitamin A. 

Folate, on the other hand, helps your body form DNA and RNA, promotes healthy blood cell formation, and prevents neural tube defects at birth. 

If you have the option don’t buy your vegetables at the grocery store. 

Instead, whenever possible, purchase them from a local farmer at your farmer’s market. The greens offered by your local farmer were probably harvested the day prior and are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals.

The short-term “cost” myth 

If your response has something to do with cost, consider the quality of the food in either scenario. In scenario a) maybe you pay $3 for a carton of spinach at your neighborhood grocery store. Take into account the days that food has travelled to get to that shelf, and you’re probably approaching the 50% nutrient value already. Further, that spinach was almost certainly grown using agricultural techniques that limit its nutritional value in the first place. In scenario b) maybe you pay your local farmer $5 for her organically-, sustainably-, regeneratively-grown nutrient-rich spinach. You support your local community first, but you also get at least twice as many nutrients as you would have before.

While you’re at the farmer’s market, you might be able to find a regenerative meat farmer who can supply you with high-quality grass-fed/pasture-raised beef, pork, and chicken. Depending on your area, you might have a single farmer who produces meat, vegetables, and fruits using sustainable agriculture methods. Plan your all-in-one shop with them.

Micronutrient value is in many cases far superior of a measure than macronutrient value. 

Long-term gains

Extrapolated further, choosing to purchase the most nutrient-dense local food option maintains a better level of health than the less nutritious alternative. Better base-level health means a stronger immune system, more resilient bones, and a powerful cardiovascular system. By removing the inputs that lead to medical visits, you save time, have more energy, and improve your overall well-being.

Know your farmer, know your produce, and get more out of your food.  


References

Pandrangi et al. Retention of Folate, Carotenoids, and Other Quality Characteristics in Commercially Packaged Fresh Spinach. Journal of Food Science. Vol. 69, Nr. 9, 2004.