Sara Snow says buying organic and locally produced foods is healthier for humans and the environment. They also taste better.
She should know.
“I grew up in a greener home than normal,” she said during a community presentation this month at the Lawrence Arts Center. “I was a happy, hippie child.”
Her parents, Tim and Pattie Redmond, are considered pioneers in the natural foods movement. Her dad is co-founder of Eden Foods, a natural food company. In 1976, Sara was born at home — not in a hospital.
She was raised in a Michigan home that used the sun and wood for heat; and she grew up turning compost piles and weeding huge organic gardens. There were trails to the neighbors’ homes, and they shared produce.
“It was a beautiful way to grow up,” she said. “Life was good.”
She decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps. Snow is author of “Sara Snow’s Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home,” and has a living green segment on CNN.com LIVE. She also serves on the board of directors for the Organic Center.
Snow is a proponent of organic foods, mainly because they have more nutrients and less pesticide.
She said the average American child is exposed to 10 pesticides daily through their food and beverages.
“That’s scary,” she said.
She suggested checking out the Environmental Working Group’s list of fruits and vegetables with the most and least pesticides at www.foodnews.org to help determine when going organic would be worth the extra money. Those with the most pesticides were peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery and nectarines. The foods that had the least were onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples and mangos.
Snow acknowledged that most people can’t go 100 percent organic, but she recommends trying 10 percent.
“Baby-step your way there,” she advised. “It really does make a difference.”
Just because food looks good doesn’t mean it’s good for you, Snow said. She uses apples — which are in season — as an example.
When shopping at a grocery store, the locally grown apples probably look puny and have spots on the outside. She says the average person probably doesn’t even notice them, although they likely have less pesticides and cost less.
“You would go straight for those big, shiny-looking apples, right?” she asked. “If you take those two apples home, I promise you they will taste immensely different. That big, huge Red Delicious is going to taste like cardboard. That little, ugly-looking apple is going to taste like you remember apples tasting from your childhood. It tastes like the real thing.”
Unfortunately, she said, family farms are rapidly going out of business. Since 1930, the U.S. has lost 5 million farms, and each week, it loses about 330 more.
“Today, we rely on very few farms to grow the food for everyone, and what that means is if there is an outbreak of some sort, a lot of people are affected by it,” she said.
“It also means that we are no longer connected to the sources of our food,” she said. “Kids need to understand that tomatoes come from the vine and not from a can on a grocery store shelf somewhere.”