By Lori Reamer
As a nutritionist, I am frequently asked whether eating local or eating organic is better for you. When it comes down to it, there’s really no right answer. What drive each person’s choice and ultimately, behavior, are their personal food values.
What are food values and why do they matter?
Food values are what influence the food practices and food selections we make. It’s important to define your personal food values, as doing so will establish guidelines that enable you to make food choices that are consistent, healthy and supportive to your overall wellness.
Trying to determine your personal food values? Some factors that may guide your food behaviors include (but are not limited to) --
1.) Ethnic heritage and traditions: This involves cooking foods that you ate as a child or considered “family recipes” and practicing traditional eating rituals, both of which help define your ethnic background.
Ways you can put this food value into action:
2.) Food safety: You may be concerned about methyl mercury, e-coli and salmonella, or about raw vs. cooked fish and eggs, etc.
Tips for protecting yourself and your family:
3.) Healthy behaviors: This relates to pace of eating, mindful eating, eating as a family and establishing eating rituals.
Ways to cultivate healthy behaviors at home:
4.) Healthy ingredients: Eating only healthy ingredients means consuming pure, minimally processed natural foods.
Tips on how to keep it healthy:
5.) Local: Buying food grown close to where you live helps support your local economy and has a lower carbon footprint. In addition, local foods are often fresher, in season and possess more flavors, allowing you to cook more simply.
Ways to keep your food local:
6.) Organic and sustainable: Food that is grown/harvested in a way that does not adversely impact the environment and does not include pesticides, insecticides or herbicides; it cannot be genetically modified; it is free of hormones and antibiotics.
Visit the following websites for more information:
Once you’ve determined what your personal food values are, prioritize them. With this knowledge you can make food and lifestyle choices that will support your and your family’s happiness and wellbeing. To your health!
Lori Reamer, R.D., C.L.E., L.D.N. is the director of nutrition at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. She specializes in metabolism, digestive wellness, gluten intolerance/celiac, insulin resistance, controlling cravings, healthy relationships with food, slow food and clean eating.