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July 19, 2017

GIRL’S GUIDE TO EATING ORGANIC

Food consciousness is a necessity to living a healthy, balanced life. We eat multiple times a day to nourish our bodies, yet often don’t consider what we’re popping into our mouths. I eat organically because I want food that tastes exceptional, is high in nutrients, free of toxins, and makes me feel good. My husband and I founded Pleasant Hill Produce, a farm dedicated to sharing delicious, feel-good food with our community. For me, eating organic isn’t just about grabbing a product in the grocery store labeled “organic.” Instead it’s about making conscious, healthy choices for my body and mind. This Girl’s Guide offers mindful suggestions about eating, and thinking, organically:

SPEND TIME IN THE KITCHEN.
Preparing or cooking your own food allows complete control of every ingredient used; strive to incorporate organic, high-quality products. Avoid processed foods. Sure, they’re convenient, but processed foods are more expensive, less nutritious, rarely organic, and don’t taste as good as fresh foods. They may also contain mysterious, hard-to-pronounce ingredients you wouldn’t want in your food if given the choice. I set aside time each week to plan meals, sides, and snacks. I then spend a few hours in the kitchen on Sunday, preparing as much as possible to make my week easier. If you’re headed out to eat, try choosing a farm to table restaurant or one that strives to use organic ingredients.

KEEP IT SIMPLE. 
Just because you’re preparing your own meals and snacks doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time in the kitchen. Balance your diet with easy-prep foods. Raw fruits and vegetables are delicious and require little to no preparation.  Eggs are quick to hard boil and convenient. Roasted or steamed vegetables make easy sides for dinner.

CHOOSE LOCAL FOOD.
Eating organic is important, but I also want my food to come from a local and trusted source. I enjoy shopping at farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) as often as possible. There are more than a dozen weekly farmer’s markets held throughout the area providing local and organic fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, bread, and more. You can talk directly with farmers about their growing practices, kitchen tips, and recipes. Strive to make one or two markets part of your weekly schedule. Many farms also offer CSAs. When purchasing a CSA, you choose a local farm to provide you a share of fresh produce. Experience eating seasonally and try some new foods with your weekly share of fresh, organic vegetables.

GROW YOUR OWN.
Planting a garden is a rewarding way to enjoy organic food. Even a single tomato plant on the back porch can produce a rewarding burst of flavor – one grown entirely on your own! Growing fruits and vegetables saves money while also providing a direct connection to your favorite foods. YUM! You’ll have complete control over the growing methods, and know exactly where and how each ingredient is produced. Fresh foods are full of flavor and you can’t get any fresher than picking your very own.

PRESERVE.
Guarantee your food is not only organic, but also void of preservatives, additives, or other unknown ingredients by preserving food at home. During the growing season, grow or purchase items in bulk to freeze, dry, or can, so that you can later enjoy them when they are out of season! Make a batch of chicken broth from saved carcasses, get creative with pickling, or freeze your greens for a delicious winter soup. Preserving is a fun, cost-effective way to enjoy organic foods all year long.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
Shopping, prepping, and eating organic, local foods 100% of the time is unrealistic. Sometimes you want to make that box of macaroni and cheese or enjoy greasy delivery pizza, and that’s okay. Eating organic doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You’re not a failure if you don’t eat all organic all the time. Instead, enjoy the positive, feel-good benefits of eating organic whenever you can.

This article was originally printed in the Spring 2016 issue of Sass Magazine.

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BY HEATHER SAYLOR

Co-Owner of Pleasant Hill Produce and a private math tutor, Heather lives in Mt. Pleasant with her husband, Ben, baby, Griffin, and dog, Rocky. She enjoys cooking, good music, and spending time outdoors.

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