When people bring up soul food, it often conjures up memories of southern comfort foods like fried chicken, sweet potato pie, cornbread and collard greens. And as tasty as those comfort foods are, they're just that, comfort foods. The notion of comfort food is that it's meant to be eaten sparingly, to evoke nostalgia and comfort in times of celebration or sadness. A regular diet of comfort food can lead to increased cholesterol, diabetes and other disease. S.O.U.L food is the exact opposite in terms of health ramifications. S.O.U.L food is fresh, delicious and nutritious. Let's explore what S.O.U.L stands for and how you can incorporate these foods into your wellness journey.
S stands for Seasonal
By purchasing fruits and vegetables that are in season, you are gaining the benefits of fresh food that is flavorful and nutritionally dense. Money and energy are spent to transport foods from afar so that stores can offer the same produce year-round. This impacts the environment and your wallet. By shopping seasonal, you help reduce environmental costs and your personal shopping budget.
O is for Organic
Pesticides, herbicides and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are abundant in stores across the country. But the effects of these can be damaging to your health and to the environment. Pesticides pollute the soil and water, kill insects that are vital to plant pollination and can cause cancer. Foods treated with these chemicals can be less nutrient-dense. GMOs and their effects on health, economy and the environment are a subject of much debate, but there's no argument that organic foods taste and feel better. Not all foods are created equally. Look up The Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists to see which produce is considered safe or unsafe as far as contamination goes.
U is for Unprocessed
Most foods found on grocery store shelves are loaded with sugars, preservatives and additives. By eating more unprocessed foods, you reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and other disease. Reach for real fruit rather than fruit snacks, brown rice instead of white, whole wheat rather than white breads.
L is for Local
Shop local at farmers markets and save big on transportation costs and nutritional costs. Local farmers pick their produce closer to their ripeness, which means flavor and nutrient profiles will be at their peak when you pick it up. When buying from the grocery store, often times the food you're picking up has been irradiated or wax preserved for transportation, especially fruits or vegetables that are imported or shipped from across the country. By buying from local farmers, you're getting fresh, whole produce that is packed with nutritional value.
By applying the S.O.U.L-ful method to your grocery shopping, you are able to find peace of mind about what you're putting on your plate.