Nutrient Density and Eating Local

Posted on Posted in Blog, Real Food Finds

Want to eat Nutrient Dense Foods? Eat Local!

When cooking for clients and my family, I focus on ingredients that are fresh, of high quality, and are nutrient dense. What is nutrient density? The standard definition of nutrient density compares the amount of vitamins/minerals/antioxidants of the ingredient to its number of calories.

While I think you and I can agree that most of the meat and produce you find at the store is nutrient dense in their own ways, but did you know that local food is on average more nutrient dense than store-bought ingredients?  I love supporting local suppliers in the Raleigh-Durham area, and love it even more after learning that local produce retains more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than store-bought produce. There is scientific evidence that local produce trumps conventional and organic store-bought produce due to the length of time from farm to table. The produce we see at the store may look pretty, but there’s no way of telling how long it was being transported from the farm to the store, or how long it has been sitting on the shelf at the store.

Studies show that seasonal local produce has a higher nutrient value than produce out of season or organic or conventional store bought produce (1). Another study also shows that produce (spinach in this case) could lose up to 50% of some of its nutrients after 4-8 days of sitting on the shelf (2).

It’s super easy to support local and eat local by visiting LoMo Market – a mobile farmers market food truck that comes to your work or neighborhood. I recently perused their well-stocked truck and outlined some of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are high in their products.

Below are nutrients that are high in products frequently carried by LoMo –

  • High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Fatty Fish, Pastured Red Meat, Egg (Yolks)
  • High in Calcium – leafy greens like Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, Turnip Greens & Collard Greens, Full-Fat Dairy
  • High in B6 – Bell Peppers, Turnip Greens, Spinach
  • High in B12 – Pastured Red Meat, Shellfish, Snapper, Mackerel, Crab
  • High in Iron – Pastured Red Meat
  • High in K2 – Aged Cheeses
  • High in Antioxidants/Polyphenols – Blue & Purple Produce (Purple Sweet Potatoes, Blueberries, etc.), Turmeric Root
  • High in Probiotics – Kombucha, Kimchi, Sauerkraut
  • High in Vitamin C – Leafy Greens, Berries, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Rutabaga

LoMo was also kind enough to let me use some of their amazing ingredients to create some recipes for y’all! I have created two recipes – one for the meat eaters out there, and another for those who prefer seafood.

Scallops and Rutabaga “Grits” – a riff on shrimp and grits.

Strawberry Balsamic Flat Iron Steak Salad is a hearty and healthy salad for all of you red meat eaters.

I hope you enjoy!