Considering how our producers spend much of their working life up to their armpits in mud and muck, it’s surprising how much they contribute to the new ‘Clean Eating’ concept.
If you haven’t heard of clean eating before, it’s a new attitude to how and what we eat, with an emphasis on reducing the consumption of processed and refined foods and upping the amount of fresh fruit and veg. Eating clean is a diet, but it’s not aimed at helping you lose weight, although this is often a knock-on effect due to consuming better-quality food. Clean eating, instead, means being more aware of the food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. In other words, knowing what you’re eating, where it comes from, what’s been done to it and what has or hasn’t been added or taken away on its journey between its source and your pantry.
The idea is gaining momentum due to social media, and is perhaps the first ‘faddy’ diet to concentrate on improving health, rather than losing weight. It calls for a long-term change in our eating habits and instead of restricting calories, restricts foods which are known to be bad for us.
It involves embracing whole foods, like vegetables, fruits or whole grains, and healthy proteins and fats. Processed and refined foods are not automatically bad for you – for instance pasteurised milk – but they are often less nutritious than their whole food counterparts and can contain high levels of preservatives, salt and sugar. Clean eating means shopping with awareness, and choosing wiser options, such as tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup. Sugar, saturated fats and alcohol can also be detrimental in excess, so these are limited, too, at least to recommended daily amounts. Oven and microwave ready foods have much of the goodness already cooked out of them, and contain high levels of unhealthy additives so, while they may be convenient, they aren’t as good for us as a piece of grilled fish, or a stir-fry of fresh vegetables.
While many clean eaters go down the road of giving up meat and choose a plant-based diet for their clean eating regime, this isn’t a requirement. However, research has shown that highly processed meats are bad for you in the long term, and it’s best to opt for meat dishes you have to prepare from scratch. Reducing some of your meat intake in favour of whole grains and vegetables is also recommended, to reduce the consumption of saturated fat. Fruits are a good way to get a sweet treat without consuming refined sugar, plus, as a whole food, they provide vitamins and minerals manufactured desserts and sweets don’t. Similarly, whole grains contain more nutrients and fibre than refined grains, so whole grain bread, rice and pasta are preferred to their refined alternatives.
Why, I hear you ask, would I want to do all that?
‘Multiple studies have shown that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can curb or prevent certain life-threatening conditions and diseases, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.’ ‘Foods with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been linked to cancer and infertility; highly processed foods are stripped of nutrients needed for overall health; and heavily modified food tends to have additives that overstimulate the production of dopamine, the “pleasure” neurotransmitter, perpetuating a negative cycle of constant junk food cravings.’ (Fitness Magazine)
Even if you’re not in a position to go entirely down the clean eating route, shopping at Taunton Farmers Market can help set your feet on that path. How? Whole food.
It’s what we grow, it’s what we sell.
All our producers grow the food they sell themselves, often from seed, or, in the case of animals, from their first few days of life. As small producers, they are better able to monitor what happens to it, and ensure sure it’s healthy and nutritious. It comes to you direct from the farm, with none of the processing factory farms employ. The meat sold has not been force-fed, or pumped with antibiotics, the animals are free-range and live comfortable and stress-free lives. The fruits and vegetables produced are grown without artificial pesticides or fertilizers and are harvested within hours of coming to market. There’s ‘field to fork’ provenance, which is sadly all too rare in the global produce industry, where food might take weeks to get to you – passing, on the way, through dozens of pairs of hands, which may not even know what country, let alone field, it came from.
With minimal handling and processing, and maximum care throughout its production, the food at Taunton Farmers Market is as clean as it can get.