Happy first day of fall! I hope you all are heading to the farmer’s market some time this weekend and can put this post to use right away!
The produce department is the only section of the grocery store that doesn’t have nutrition labels. When you walk into the produce department of your local grocery store you probably think “healthy!” and leave it at that. I buy fruits and vegetables all the time and merely think “these are good for me.” All the time, you hear people say that they need to eat more fruits and vegetables but very rarely do you hear someone say they need to eat this specific vegetable for this specific reason.
I need to eat more vegetables, but why? To be healthy, in general, right? But what about specifically?
When you walk into your local pharmacy you don’t think to yourself “I should take more medicine as a general move toward health.” No, you have a problem or an ailment and you head to the pharmacy to find a resolution. Aspirin for a headache, etc.
Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that are in season right now; that means you can find them locally – the farmer’s market, your local fruit stand – the key word is local. What’s more, the same fruits and veggies you can find at your local farmer’s market can actually help prevent and treat many of the same ailments you head to the pharmacy for.
Heading down to your local FARM-acy this weekend? Why not treat what ails you?
Cold & Flu:
- Raw Cabbage – helps fire up your immune system and also kills bacteria found in the body, most of the benefits of cabbage “cook out” so it is best eaten raw.
- Chard Juice – if the idea of chard juice creeps you out (it creeps me out) try using chard in a soup and enjoying the “broth” instead.
- Chilies and Peppers – used to prevent and treat lung disorders such as bronchitis and emphysema because the capsaicin acts as an expectorant.
- Garlic – has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which help your body ward off germs.
- Radish – acting as an expectorant, helps remove mucus.
- Local Honey – fighting fire with fire, locally sourced honey exposes you to just about everything you might be allergic to allowing your body to build a resistance.
- Garlic – has strong anti-viral properties and has been used for a wide range of respiratory concerns.
- Chilies and Peppers – they increase blood flow and help your body metabolize the alcohol. Best eaten before drinking, but can also be helpful during and after a rough night out with your friends.
- Chilies and Peppers – the capsaicin found in peppers and chilies helps remove histamines from your lungs which means less coughing and easier breathing.
- Garlic – helps to thin mucus making breathing easier.
Constipation & Digestive Problems:
- Garlic – is often used to treat digestive disorders and bowel disorders.
- Radish – helps to relieve indigestion and flatulence.
- Cabbage – serving as “roughage” cabbage is very useful in treating ongoing digestive disorders.
- Pumpkin Seeds – act as a laxative when eaten in large quantities.
Minor Cuts & Splinters:
- Cabbage – cooked or steamed can be applied directly to skin to pull out a splinter or to draw pus out of a wound.
- Chilies and Peppers – the capsaicin in chilies and peppers is used in topical pain relievers, eating the chilies and peppers can also help alleviate pain.
- Chilies and Peppers – increase blood flow and stimulate the production of endorphins – the happy hormones!
Bug Bites and Stings:
- Cabbage – apply cooked cabbage to a swollen bites or stings – helps draw out histamines and the stinger if it was left behind.
- Garlic – applied raw can help alleviate symptoms of bee stings and also serves as an anti-bacterial.
- Onion – applied raw will serves as an “anti-itch” remedy as well as an antiseptic.
- Pumpkin (and other winter squashes with seeds) – historically, pumpkin seeds were ground up with oatmeal and then applied to the face as a treatment for blemishes.
- Carrot – dry skin is often caused by a Vitamin A deficiency; because carrots are incredibly high in beta carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A, carrots help restore moisture to skin.
**I am not a registered dietician. I have been exploring food options for my own family and have had a long interest in naturopath remedies. I personally believe that eating healthy is much more powerful than anything in the drug store. I do however see the need and purpose for modern medicine. I also have to admit that while I strive to eat healthy and to provide my family with healthy nutritious meals – we are still normal people. We still have junk nights (last night was pizza and a movie) and you better believe we still love Swedish Fish **
Each of the vegetables included in the remedies above is currently in season (here locally and in most parts of North America). There are lots of spring and summer vegetables that can help with these same ailments. If these vegetables are not in season for you, please consider reading through the recommended reading list below. While I highly recommend local sourcing – you can of course find any of these vegetables year round at the grocery store.
Going back to the food labels, don’t you think that if you picked up a carrot at the grocery store and there was a label that told you it was loaded with beta carotene, that it was great for people with skin conditions, would help people maintain and restore their vision, could improve breathing ability for those with asthma – if you could see all that info on the food label, don’t you think you’d buy more carrots?
Knowledge is a powerful thing. At a time when we are legally requiring fast food companies to provide nutrition info for their foods so we can “see how bad things are and make better decisions” I think we should use this samenudge theory on the positive side – requiring fresh produce to carry nutrition information showing all the nutrients and what they are good for.
What do you think?