August 3 – 9 marks the USDA’s 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week. With over 7,800 farmers markets, (up 67% since 2008!1), shopping and supporting local is not only encouraged, but also nutritious. Expect to find ultra-fresh vegetables, unique heirloom varieties, and farmers committed to quality, organic foods.
While we support organic agriculture, we acknowledge its limitations and complications. A 2012 Stanford study concluded organic foods are not significantly more nutritious than conventional foods, but may contain fewer pesticides.2 Some organic producers use natural pesticides, but their use isn’t necessarily “healthier.”3, 4 Surely there are healthful benefits to consuming organic, right? A recent study published in the British Medical Journal concluded organic foods are significantly higher in antioxidants and lower in pesticide residues.5
At farmers markets, you can speak directly with farmers and understand their philosophies regarding pesticides. Sometimes you’ll meet farmers committed to minimizing pesticides, natural or otherwise, and others whose products aren’t necessarily USDA Certified Organic, but nevertheless are high quality.
The following recipe features many antioxidant powerhouses, including cloves, the number one dietary source of polyphenols (the most common type of antioxidant).6 Yes, you can eat cloves! Soften them and they’re delicious. Berries, plums, almonds, mint (especially peppermint), and cacao are also exceptionally potent sources of antioxidants.7
- 1 handful of blueberries
- 1 handful of raspberries
- 2 or 3 small plums
- ¾ cup almonds, soaked overnight
- 15 to 20 cloves
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 20 mint leaves
- 1 – 2 tbsp raw cacao (100% cacao, unsweetened)
Christopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.
1. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=KYF_MISSION
2. Smith-Spangler, C., et al. (September 4, 2012). Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives? A Systematic Review. Annals of Internal Medicine, 157(3). Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22944875
3. Wilcox, Christie. (July 18, 2011). Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture. Scientific American. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/
4. Wilcox, Christie. (August 15, 2011). In the immortal words of Tom Petty: “I won’t back down.” Scientific American. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/08/15/organic_myths_revisited/
5. Baranski, M., et al. (July, 2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Medical Journal, 26(1-18). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24968103
6. Pérez-Jiménez, J., Neveu, V., Vos, F., and Scalbert, A. (November 2010). Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(Suppl. 3). Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v64/n3s/fig_tab/ejcn2010221t1.html#figure-title