What We Eat
We know that “you are what you eat”, but really, “we are what we eat eats”.The quality of our food depends on how it’s grown, raised, processed, and brought to us. This is one of the pillars of Ali Fitness, and a big difference between diet culture and an overall lifestyle. What we eat matters, and quality is important.
We’re not the food police.
The choice of what you should or should not eat or drink is up to you. But, we do want you to be as informed as possible. I’m sure you’ve heard so many conflicting messages when it comes to eating organically, locally, and especially when it comes to eating animal protein, and you may be wondering what’s right and what isn’t? There are a few factors we’d love for you to consider when it comes down to figuring out what’s right for you.
Produce- Organic or Not?
We recommend eating organic fruits and vegetables when possible. Refer to the EWG Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list to see which produce is the most at risk for pesticides and the options that are the least. This gets updated yearly, but strawberries are almost always at the top for pesticide exposure. Berries and other thin skinned, above ground grown produce are best organic, where as anything grown under the ground or within a thick shell or skin can be purchased conventionally.
Honey and Maple Syrup
Many conventional brands of honey and maple syrup are cut with corn syrup and other sweeteners, and are highly processed. Look for 100% pure maple syrup and raw honey. Read the labels on these products, too, as marketing can be deceiving. “Natural” may mean cut with agave syrup, which is just as inflammatory as corn syrup, and other labelsmay be deceiving. Look for one ingredient only and no other additives.
Organic eggs are a good option, but we want you to take it a step further and look for pastured eggs or locally farmed eggs. These chickens are raised with ample space and are allowed to eat their most natural diet. Although often supplemented with grain feed in the winter, they’re still allowed to forage for bugs, dirt, and greens- something factory chickens (organic or not) are not allowed to do- even if the label uses language like “vegetarian fed” or “free range.” Their quality of life is usually better, and their eggs are high quality because of it with as much as double the vitamins, minerals, and Omega 3 content. Rich colored yolks, pudding thick egg whites- these are the things that make a healthy, nourishing egg. Look for brands like Vital Farms, found in almost any store.
Meat quality is high a high priority when it comes to animal protein consumption. We recommend grass fed and finished, preferable from a local farmer. If you can’t find someone to provide this in your area or are short on time, using a company like Butcherbox is another option.
Animal Welfare and Sustainability
We advocate for sustainable and humanely farmed animal products, which excludes endangered seafood and CAFO farming. There is a big difference between pastured meats (like pork, chicken, beef, etc) and factory farmed meats (CAFOs), both environmentally and ethically. If you can, choose pastured and sustainably sourced protein. When it comes to seafood, choose sustainable seafood options to avoid overfishing. Farmed fish are often fed high amounts of corn and soy feed, and fish like farmed salmon have added food dye. Opt for wild caught options when possible, even when it comes to canned fish.
We understand that outsourcing produce and meat can be necessary as not everyone has access to a local farm, and not every grocery store carries sustainable products. Do your best with what you can, when you can. Look up local farmers markets, CSA delivery services, and consult the Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen list when shopping. Do your best with what you have and feel confident in your choices!
Have you been paying attention to your food? Where it comes from, what it has been fed, and the quality of life it (or the people harvesting it) has had? Shifting everything we eat all at once isn’t easy, but small changes over time can completely overhaul our food choices. Start with organic, look for local, pastured, and sustainable options. Read ingredients and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. When it comes to animal protein, we’ve got some reading for you that we think you’ll find fascinating and will really help you decide not only what to eat, but where to buy it! This article explains the importance of grass-fed meat (with links to similar articles about poultry and pork). This article digs into the nuances of conventional vs grass-fed meat. And if you want to really delve deep into science, check this out! Do the best you can with the knowledge you have, and watch your food approach overhaul over time. We are what we eat, and we want to do the best we can with the resources we have.