If there was a time to try your hand at growing some of your own vegetables, this is it. According to a study from the University of Guelph’s Food Institute and Dalhousie University, 27% of the people surveyed had cut back on the levels of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets in the last 12 months because of climbing produce prices.
In my Food is Information post, I talk about how food speaks to our genes and either turns them on or off with the information the food provides that gets translated into cellular instructions. In other words, what we eat programs our bodies with messages of health or messages of disease.
So what exactly is the message our body gets when we don’t eat fresh produce – specifically vegetables? It depends on what we are eating instead. Unfortunately 16% of the respondents in the survey said they consider juice as an alternative when fresh produce prices become too prohibitive. I say unfortunately because juice, even freshly squeezed, contains a lot of sugar (yes, naturally occurring, but the body doesn’t differentiate) that will drive blood sugar up. When you drink juice too often instead of eating the whole fruit or vegetable, you are giving your body information that can take you down the road to impaired blood sugar control.
On the positive side, 45% of those in the survey bought more frozen produce when the fresh was perceived as too expensive. Frozen produce is generally picked when it is fully ripe and frozen very quickly, preserving a lot of the nutrients. Frozen whole fruits and vegetables are certainly a more nutritious choice than juice.
We can likely be guaranteed that food prices will continue to rise. Even I balked at $7.99 cauliflower last December, but if you find yourself avoiding the fresh produce section, have a good look at your whole grocery cart and see how you can rearrange it to ensure you get the vegetables and fruits that carry the information that turn on the genes that promote health rather than disease.