By Jamell Andrews
Holistic eating is an approach to food that takes into account all the various issues that surround what we eat. Holistic eaters consider how a food is produced, how the various foods we eat interact with each other, and how we can balance nutrition with food enjoyment and our overall well-being. But while there are many factors to consider with regard to holistic eating, how and where we buy our foods is the most immediate in our lives. When shopping at the grocery store, you make decisions that can have profound effects on both on your life and on the world as a whole.
These issues are huge, and they cannot be boiled down easily, but here are a few general things to consider if you want to eat holistically.
Many people assume that holistic eating involves vegetarianism or is associated with other food movements such as raw-foodism. But the fact is that many holistic eaters believe in not restricting what they eat as long as they are ethical in their buying practices. We can argue about the meaning of ethics with regard to food, but there are many in the holistic-eating community who believe that there is nothing wrong with responsibly produced meat and other animal products.
At this point, if you are not raising and harvesting the food yourself, the only way to know for sure that the food you buy is ethically produced is to buy organic. Sure, there are some holes in the organic food regulations, but it is better than nothing. Also keep in mind that organic foods imported from foreign countries are sometimes not a safe bet. Do a little research to find out which countries have better regulations and which are lax.
An essential aspect of holistic eating is making sure that the food you buy is environmentally friendly. Food that has been transported from the other side of the world or even from across the country does not fit the bill. Think about all the fossil fuels that are burned just to get a shipment of produce, for example, from California to New York. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that you cannot buy certain foods, but that is where seasonal eating comes in.
Buy in season
No matter where you live, there is always going to be something in season. Go online and look into what is in season during the various times of year in your area, and then focus your meal planning around seasonally appropriate foods. This means that you will have to get used to not eating certain fruits and vegetables during certain times of the year, but this is not a disaster. It is how our ancestors did it for thousands of years, and we can do it too. In fact, the restrictions of buying in season can actually make your food choices more varied and interesting.
While it is always a good idea to buy local products, there are global concerns to keep in mind. Holistic-eating advocates should make an effort to educate themselves about food growing and labor practices throughout the world so that they can make buying decisions that have positive rather than negative effects. It is no secret that many agricultural companies throughout the world use child labor and exploit the environment in harmful ways. While it is impossible to know the full background of every piece of food you buy, it is good to know as much as possible.
On a lighter note, it is also great to think globally when it comes to your food choices. Holistic eating is all about expanding your horizons and discovering new ways to feed yourself healthy food that is also delicious. As part of this effort, holistic eaters should make an effort to try as many different global cuisines as possible.