Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Eat Better for Less This Spring

Eat Better for Less This Spring

By Laura Bruzas

What better time is there than the arrival of a new season to revisit your eating and dining habits and resolve to make change? Adopting some of the ideas listed below can make a big difference:

1. Leave winter behind and get the biggest nutritional bang for your shopping buck by embracing local foods. Fresh produce starts to lose nutrients three or four days after harvesting. The average piece of U.S.-grown produce travels 1,500 miles over a four- to seven-day period before reaching your grocers, so most produce is nutrient-zapped before it reaches your dinner table. Check your state's agriculture department website for a month-by-month list of what's in season in your area this spring; buy local when possible.

2. Develop a green thumb. You'd be surprised at the diversity of foods that you can grow with minimum fuss in your own home or apartment. You can't get any more local (or fresh) than food harvested from your own windowsill. A few foods that can be successfully grown indoors include salad greens, tomatoes, green onions, herbs and garlic. And if you are lucky enough to have a bit of outdoor space (balcony, back yard, etc.), the possibilities are endless for what you can grow.

3. Declare war on waste. Inventory what you have at home before you go grocery shopping and plan your weekly menus around items nearing their expiration date. A study from the University of Arizona found that the average family of four in the U.S. tosses 14 percent of the food they buy, because it either spoils or goes uneaten. That's double what was thrown out 20 years ago.

BIO: Laura Bruzas is a green kitchen economist, author of 50 Simple Ways to Eat Well for Less, and founder of HealthyDining.org, an all-volunteer community education and outreach effort promoting food choices that foster personal wellness, conservation and animal compassion.