We all know that we should eat healthier and there's always room for improvement; but there are hindrances to not only finding good food sources, but affording the extra time and money to obtain them. Given the current environment of threats of food shortages, transportation, and local climate changes affecting growing; we have a daunting task to get and keep our nutritional goals.
If you have local growers, get to know them, who they are and what their practices are. Locally grown is always best as food is grown in a similar environment to your own and the microbiome affects will be complimentary. Produce is also picked when ripe with the fullness of nutrients available. Produce grown and shipped is picked prior to ripening and ripens on the way to you. Many nutrients are lost this way. If you can't get locally grown, the next best thing is to purchase frozen organic in the grocery as those fruits and vegetables will have been picked when they are ripe and frozen immediately for preservation before shipping. Localharvest.org is a great online resource to find organic and grass fed meats in your local area.
Then there's the "ugly food" movement. It has become a thing of the past that slightly bruised and disfigured food is thrown away as not being presentable to shoppers. As there has been a bigger need to provide wholesome food to food shelves and greater numbers of people, the idea of putting perfectly good food into peoples' hands has opened up the idea of no longer throwing the imperfect produce away. As well as there being local organizations that may do this in your area, there are also online sources like Misfits Market (misfitsmarket.com) or Hungry Harvest (hungryharvest.net) that process and mail to your door your orders at up to 40% less depending on time of year and availability. It might also depend on locations. There are others, so explore the internet to find the ones best suited to your needs.
Next options are Thrive Market that carries guaranteed organic for every product on their shelves. They advertise up to 6,000 products including staples, meats, produce and harder to find needs with an entry level fee. This again, can be shipped right to your door. With the prices on gas climbing and despite mailing costs, these may not be such bad ways to obtain good quality food without fuel costs. Butcher Box (butcherbox.com) and Walden Local Meats (waldenlocalmeat.com) are other great sources for mail order meats.
Another new concept in obtaining fresh produce is the "gleaning" movement or food recovery programs, where people go into the fields that have already been harvested, usually by mechanical means, and pick what has been left behind. It helps the farmers clean up their fields and supplies more viable food for food shelves and those willing to take advantage of the excess for their families. Organic farms that store produce over winter will sometimes open their facilities for gleaning overripe or marginal produce.
If you are growing your own food you have an advantage in being able to grow the things that your family loves. For those of you that are beginning this adventure, plan ahead for growing as much as you can and either freezing and/or canning for winter and food shortages in the grocery store. Much like the Victory Gardens of WWII, we can augment, if not fully stock, our larders with good quality food. Here in Vermont where winters can be long, it is a blessing to be able to go into my freezer and bring out fresh frozen green beans in January; or make a blueberry pie with fresh frozen blueberries picked in August.
The following two resource books can help you with practical ways of getting good healthy nutrition, simply as you learn about the pros and cons of food groups and making your own vs purchasing. There are probably more options out there for you than you think so explore with your laptop, your local areas and the mail order options. There are other places like Trader Joes and other food suppliers that carry some organics so read labels and glean from these sources also. Start now to think about sources and plan ahead. Your quality of life may depend on it.
Resources: Food What the Heck Should I Eat? Mark Hyman, MD This is an excellent and down to earth approach to helping people get started eating for optimal health. Dr. Hyman not only gives good nutritional information, but gives practical guidelines about myths and misunderstandings about some food groups. He gives practical information for what to watch for in labeling and nutritional dos and don't as well as good sources similar to the ones above regarding where to get accurate information. He also includes a chapter of meal plans and recipes using simple and straightforward methods for beginners and intermediates.
Nourishing Traditions, The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats Sally Fallon. This is more than a cookbook. It has chapters categorized by product with introductory notes and annecdotal information on every page about where to find the right sources, how to make from scratch, how to substitute with the best foods and myriads of recipes for every lifestyle. She also includes great information on each food group and what to look for and avoid as well as what gives you the most nutritional bang for your buck. Great for beginners as well as the more advanced who want to make their own breads, yogurts, fermented dishes, sourdough and the list goes on. This book has been revised at least 4 times now, but each edition is chock full of great ways of using what is available to you. Used copies will be just as valuable.
Eatwild (eatwild.com) state by state guide or Eat Well Guide (eatwellguide.org)
Over 40 years of Herbal and nutritional experience.