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?
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.
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.
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.
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.