Every time we talk about the proper ayurvedic diet, we urge you to eat foods that are fresh and organic.
From the ayurvedic point of view, there are two primary reasons why it's emphasized that you eat foods as close to nature as possible:
- Leftovers, and refined, preserved, canned and processed foods, are harder on the digestion than fresh foods, cooked right before they are served. When the food you eat is not properly digested, amaaccumulates in the physiology. Ama is the ayurvedic term for digestive impurities, and is considered the breeding ground of disease in ayurveda.
- Fresh foods contain "prana" or life-giving energy. The more you eat of life-giving foods, the more health and longevity you are likely to enjoy. As food sits around on supermarket shelves, or even in your refrigerator, it loses some of this life force. Food grown with the aid of chemical fertilizers or sprays is equally devoid of natural life energy. Ayurveda considers food very powerful medicine. Why not make the best use of the foods you prepare and eat by choosing fresh, organic, filled-with-prana foods?
Many cities and towns now host farmer's markets, where trucks loaded with produce from nearby farms drop off their cargoes of fresh fruits and vegetables. Why not make visits to these markets a part of your shopping routine? In most cases, the produce will have been picked the day before, and the fruits and vegetables will be fresh and bursting with flavor. If you grow your own vegetables, you'll know that the tomato you pick off the vine is far superior to the one you pick off the produce shelf at the supermarket. It's true that you may pay more for your produce, but you'll get value for your money, and what's more, you'll be helping small farmers survive and produce specialty items that supermarket chains and agriculture conglomerates don't consider big business.
Modern nutritionists concur that fresh is better. Food that spends weeks in transportation has lost much of its vitamin content by the time it finds its way to your Crock-Pot or saucepan. Fruit is often artificially ripened or ripens in transit instead of on the tree or bush or vine, where the sun and the rain and the air coax it to the peak of its juiciness and sweetness.
Of course, farmer's markets carry only fruits or vegetables in season, but that's part of the adventure of eating. Once you've experienced the nuances of flavors and textures offered by truly fresh produce, you'll be willing to build your menus around what's available. And herbs and spices can always dress up any vegetable with flair.
Food that is certified organic is grown without chemical pesticides and fertilizers that are harmful to health and to our environment, and an independent certifying body has confirmed that that is indeed so.
So check out that local farmer's market this weekend. You'll fill your shopping basket with prana, and help support your community at the same time.
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