Nutrient-Dense Foods I Don’t Buy Local

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In the food community, it’s common to hear people say, “buy local”. No doubt, buying local is a very important thing to do. It supports your local agricultural food efforts and growers, and hopefully when you are buying local there is a mindful effort toward sustainable as well. Sustainable, meaning to support those who use practices in their farming and growing methods which are safe, healthy, and enable life as we know it to continue on earth.

So I hope that means you are making sure, at the very least, that your food is not treated with chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or other harmful substances. If you can get organic, that’s a plus. But many growers are simply unable to become certified organic for a variety of reasons. The cost and effort to certify is a feat in and of itself. I know because I have talked to one of the farmers in my area who owns a sizeable piece of land where his cattle roam and he explained the process to me and expense, which simply wouldn’t be cost feasible.

With that said, I wanted to showcase some of the nutrient-dense foods I eat that are sustainable but are not locally purchased. In fact, this post was inspired in part due to a conversation I had with my friends Stanley and Keren Fishman of Tender Grassfed Meat about my health issues (thyroid, anxiety, and general deficiencies in nutrients). In any given location, there will be foods you can buy local. But what about foods we need in our diets that aren’t available where we live?

Kerrygold butter

For two years, we’ve been getting our raw milk and beef from a local, certified organic farm which raises their cattle on pasture with no grain. Now, due to changing state laws and lack of funds to hire enough staff to keep the farm running, the farm has put their dispersal of raw milk on hold. This has been devastating to our family. Not only have we been drinking this milk for quite awhile and enjoying the health benefits from it, I happen to have low thyroid function which requires a steady supply of iodine in my diet. This farm, unlike any other farm I know of in our area, supplements their cattle with organic kelp – a rich source of iodine. Idaho soils are not known for their mineral-rich qualities, either. In fact, our state is a heavily commercialized farming region which means the soils have been abused for years due to modern farming methods and heavily treated with chemical fertilizers. This has depleted what nutrients we would have had in our soil.

I had also been buying Kerrygold Butter from our health food store for years. Kerrygold Butter is from Ireland where traditional farming methods are largely used, the cattle are grass-fed, and the soils are mineral rich; in particular, with iodine, as they are close to the sea. Oh, and they have cheese, too (which I have yet to try)!

Just six days after my health crisis started in January (I began having panic attacks nightly which have disturbed my sleep now for about 7 weeks), we had just started buying raw milk, butter, and cream from another farm that isn’t certified organic. At first, I didn’t think any difference would be noticed. After all, the milk is raw, right? They do alfalfa and grass feed, but there is no iodine in the supplementation for the cows. Our family had been under a tremendous amount of stress financially and had not received a regular paycheck for about 3 months. My stress level was high, and I had not been taking care of myself as I should on top of everything else.

Now, I should state here that I wasn’t drinking as much of the milk as my husband and son do because I wanted them to have the lion’s share since sometimes they don’t eat as well as I do (which is just out of my control on occasion). Normally we were getting about 2 gallons a week from the organic farm, and at $10 a gallon, that’s all we could afford. But I was making yogurt out of this milk when we’d get enough extra, which I was eating, and I was eating Kerrygold butter everyday. We are still getting our raw milk and cream from the other farm, but I’m now buying Kerrygold butter again. The important lesson learned here is that just because something is local doesn’t mean it’s nutritionally superior. I can assure you, I’m back on the road to recovery and I’ll never stray again.

Olive oil

I’ve been buying olive oil that is not from our local area ever since I can remember. Idaho is not exactly an ideal climate in which to raise olives, so this is a no-brainer. For years I’ve been buying Napa Valley Naturals brand because my local health food store sells it and their oils are a sustainably-produced (I did my research and called the company to inquire about their practices). Last year I started hearing about Chaffin Family Orchards olive oil and I had wanted to give it a try, but for some time kept forgetting to order a bottle.

Then I attended the Weston A. Price Wise Traditions conference in King of Prussia last fall and met Chris Kerston of Chaffin Family Orchards. He told me they were having a special during December for free shipping, and that convinced me to order a bottle and try it.  I’m pretty glad I made that decision, because I received a gallon of it which should last awhile, it’s one of the most delicious olive oils my family has ever tasted, and Chaffin Family Orchards is one of the most conscientious food growers I can think of and are most sustainable in their practices.

Cod liver oil

This food is incredibly nutrient-rich and isn’t local for most people. We buy Green Pasture Products fermented cod liver oil with butter oil – also known as Blue Ice Royal. Fermented cod liver oil is produced in accordance with old-world methods – by taking the cod livers and batch fermenting them for up to six months. The butter oil is not-heated treated, and from cows grazing on green grass. When these two foods are combined, the discovery of the “X-factor” discovered by Dr. Weston A. Price on his travels in the 1930s is achieved. The Vitamin K in the butter oil actually enables the body to utilize the precious nutrients found in the cod liver oil – Vitamins A, D, Omega 3s, and many others.

Vitamin D is critical for many aspects of health. It is instrumental in maintaining proper bone, brain, and immune health, protects against free-radical damage in the body, eliminates inflammation and allergic reactions in the body, and also helps you to maintain a healthy weight. And, Vitamin D is essential in the metabolizing of minerals like calcium and other nutrients.  Of course, getting Vitamin D from the sun is important too, as well as other food sources like meats, organ meats, milk and butter from pasture-raised cows, safe-sourced seafood.

In order to properly utilize Vitamin D, however, you must have an adequate intake of Magnesium and Vitamin B6. Make certain you are getting a good supplementation of magnesium, as the soils in the U.S. are so depleted from commercial farming methods, this is one mineral most people are sorely lacking in.

Avocados

For many people, avocadoes are not local. They certainly aren’t local to Idaho. Avocadoes contain Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin E, and C.  It also has trace amounts of pantothenic acid, potassium, Riboflavin, and niacin. And, avocadoes are also a good source of healthy fats – each fruit contains an average of 3 grams of monounsaturated fat, important for circulatory health. If you eat avocadoes, be sure to buy organic or at the very least, not treated with any type of chemicals – although avocadoes are one of the foods which contain some of the least amounts of pesticides according to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.

Coconut oil

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Since the source of many coconut oils are near the ocean, you would think all brands are probably the same. But, there are some more inland sources of coconut oils that I would think might be inferior to those near the coastal regions. Any brand that you buy should say that it originates from a coastal area – the Philippines is one place you can be assured there will be more nutrients minerals such as iodine.  Tropical Traditions, Wilderness Family Naturals, and Nutiva all obtain their coconuts for oil from the Philippines.

There are so many good things about coconut oil for our health, it’s hard to know where to begin. Coconut oil is high in rich in lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. It is also contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are easily assimilated by the liver so that the body can use it to maintain skin, hair, eyes, and weight.

Thyroid health can actually be improved greatly with coconut oil. Because it stimulates metabolism and raises basal body temperatures, this naturally promotes normalized thyroid function.  Various people on the Coconut Diet site report eating coconut oil for a period of time and then finding out through a blood test that their thyroid function actually improved.

Watch this informative video interview with Dr. Bruce Fife about the benefits of coconut oil to the thyroid and health in general.

I’m definitely taking coconut oil, and in a few months I’m going to have the blood test taken again to see if my thyroid levels have changed.

This nutritious substance contains Vitamins E and K, and also iron which are critical for heart, immune, brain, control of free radicals in the body, and helping to deal with stress. The nutrients in coconut oil are very healthy for the entire digestive tract – especially maintaining blood sugar (liver and pancreas, and can help control diabetes, prevent gall and liver stones, and also  auto-immune disorders). It is also important for kidney health (prevents kidney stones). Coconut oil facilitates the absorption of minerals like calcium which are important for bone health.

Also, try organic, raw coconut butter too. Artisana is a great brand, and it is so delicious!

Don’t forget local foods!

Even though I made this list of important foods to purchase for your health that may not be local to you, please continue to support your local and sustainable food producers. Sustainable producers are the backbone of our future, health, and safe food system. Read all about the farmers I trust and support in my local area – Locavore’s shopping tour – local farms, local food

What foods do you buy that are nutrient-dense and are not from your local area? Please share!

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday Carnival.

15 Comments

  • D.
    March 4, 2011 - 10:08 AM | Permalink

    I suffered with panic/anxiety for many years until I discovered a couple of breathing techniques (one is to breathe in AND out through your nose only, not your mouth) and added magnesium asporotate 400 mg daily. I try to get my nutrition from foods, but sometimes a supplement is quite necessary.

    Also, keep in mind that just because something is locally grown doesn’t mean it’s organic. When you shop at a farmers market for veggies, you must ask how they were grown, and that’s not a 100% guarantee either. I like to support local, too, but I don’t know all these farmers personally so it’s a gamble. But I consider buying “organic” vegetables at the local Safeway store an even bigger gamble, so you have to choose your battles I guess.

  • March 4, 2011 - 10:21 AM | Permalink

    Fantastic article, thank you for all of the very useful information. I too have had anxiety and have learned to manage it, but I know I could support my brain even better if I ate better brain foods more regularly. I am definitely going to look into a few of these companies!

  • March 4, 2011 - 11:50 AM | Permalink

    Great article. Given the depleted state of much of our farmland/soils, I think getting these types of foods from diverse locations can be a big help in getting a good mineral balance.

  • March 4, 2011 - 6:12 PM | Permalink

    Raine, It is so nice to see you posting again!

    Eating local is a noble idea, but it only works if the local foods are rich in the vitamins and minerals we need to survive and thrive. Many areas are good for raising some types of food, but not others.

    Some areas have soil that is so depleted that nothing grown there is good to eat. The soil depletion problem you have described is so bad that it is a challenge to find nutrient-dense food anywhere, from any source.

    Thank you so much for sharing the good sources you have found, this is priceless information for everybody who is trying to eat a nutrient-dense diet. We in the real food movement should share our good sources as much as possible.

    I am hopeful that the day will come when enough farmers learn how to restore the health of their soil so more of us can eat local products that are actually nutrient dense. Until then, for most of us, we have to get nutrient-dense food where we can find it, even if it is not local.

    • March 6, 2011 - 11:19 AM | Permalink

      Hi Stanley -

      I surely hope what I’ve posted here is helpful to others. I also hope farmers will become more aware and mindful of soil amendment and making sure their practices are sound and healthy. And that’s why, as we discussed, it’s okay to buy some foods in different areas. In fact, it’s a downright necessity, as much as many of us hate the idea of the fossil fuels used to bring those foods to our door, we must do it to keep ourselves in health. But there are other ways to conserve on usage of fossil fuels – by driving minimally in the area where we all live, walking, biking, carpooling, and driving more fuel efficient cars. Of course, my panacea would be to bring back the horse-drawn carriages and using horses for transportation. But then again, as m husband pointed out, that would bring about new issues like disposal of massive amounts of animal waste – which occurred in places like NYC during around the turn of the century when big populations were concentrated all in one area and were still using horses and other animals as a means for transportation. I think with our advanced technology and history of knowledge with nature, we can strive to develop solutions that are both healthy for us and the earth.

      I can’t thank you and Keren enough for all the correspondence you have sent to give me ideas and help out, I really appreciate it, and as usual, have less than adequate words to express my gratitude. :)

      • March 8, 2011 - 7:14 PM | Permalink

        No thanks necessary, Raine. We are happy to have been of some help. We are also very grateful for the many things you have done to help and support us.

  • March 5, 2011 - 4:58 AM | Permalink

    Great article and points. But my question is: If they supplement the cattle with kelp for iodine, why can’t you do the same? I put a kelp powder in my smoothies.

    And be sure that you only use organic refined coconut oil for cooking at high temperatures. I think the smoke point is 400 degrees. I use the raw coconut oil for spreading on toast or very low heat or to add to smoothies, too.

    • March 6, 2011 - 11:11 AM | Permalink

      Hi Deborah – I do supplement with kelp now, I started about three weeks ago. I was taking Iodoral for over a year previously, and hoping it would resolve my fibrocystic breast issues as described in Dr. David Brownstein’s book, “Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”. Unfortunately, I did not experience a reduction in fibrocystic breast issues. I still don’t really know why, but several practitioners muscle-tested me and said that I wasn’t absorbing the Iodoral (it’s in tablet form). What’s also strange is that I had been drinking the milk from the organic farm for a long time and eating the Kerrygold Butter, which both have iodine in them, and still no change in the cysts. I am now eating Kerrygold Butter again, eating a lot of raw coconut oil, and taking the kelp. I just started up on this regimen very recently, so I will probably have to wait to see what the results are for at least another month or two. I am also taking Dr. Ron Schmid’s glandular supplement for thyroid with liver. I don’t know anyone who’s had success with this supplement for thyroid issues, but I had to reduce my dose originally because someone at the company told me the wrong information about dosing, and I ended up taking way too much. Apparently 1 capsule is equal to 1/2 grain of Armour, but I was told to take 4 of them instead and it completely amped me out. Now I’m taking 1/2 tablet to 1 tablet daily in the morning. I just have to wait and see what happens now.

  • March 5, 2011 - 8:47 AM | Permalink

    I really like this article. We’ve tried to do the 100-mile diet, as much as possible, with the exceptions you mentioned, plus a couple more. There are a lot of things that just don’t grow well in Colorado! Thanks for all the research!

  • March 5, 2011 - 6:03 PM | Permalink

    I wish I could send you some of our avocadoes and oranges from our backyard! :) However there are lots of things that just can’t grow in FL so we also have to look elsewhere, plus our soil is very poor – lots of sand – so even our wonderful, grassfed raw milk is probably less nutritious than it would be if our cows lived farther north on rich black soil instead of sand. Thanks for your comments. I will go look up my olive oil and coconut oil sources now so I can decide if they are still good choices!

    • March 6, 2011 - 11:13 AM | Permalink

      Hi Lee – I am glad this post was helpful! Your oranges and avocadoes sound delicious! It seems we have soil deficiencies everywhere now, which is a shame. But we just have to take care in selecting our foods to maximize our nutrition from what we eat.

  • Michelle
    February 26, 2012 - 9:31 AM | Permalink

    Great article, Raine!

  • Cathy Maguire
    May 8, 2012 - 12:01 PM | Permalink

    Raine, thanks for the great article. Being a native of Dublin, Ireland, I grew up on Kerrygold products and I’m lucky enough to be able to buy it locally at a Weis supermarket where I live in NEPA. Trader Joe’s and Sams Club also sell Kerrygold butter and Cheeses in bulk for a good price. I highly recommend their Dubliner cheese. For a time I was making my own butter and occasionally I do for a treat when I can get raw cream in the Spring. Kerrygold will never outdo your own stuff but just like pastured eggs you can tell by the beautiful color that you are on to a good thing.

  • May 9, 2012 - 12:57 PM | Permalink

    Cathy – it’s great to hear testimonials from people eating Kerrygold, it’s a superior product, and so delicious. I always thought local, raw butter would be better, but here in ID where our soils are very depleted from commercial farming, there’s a lot lacking in minerals, and especially iodine. The Kerrygold butter is rich in iodine since it comes from a place that is close to the sea where this mineral is found in abundance. So in our case, I really do think the Kerrygold is better than local, which is why I buy it. I’m sure if we had great soil, the local raw butter would be in first place.

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