SOUL Food — Seasonal, Organic, Unadulterated, and Local — Eco-conscious Eating


Nutrients come from soil through the stem of a living plant and once ripe, a fruit or vegetable is at its height of nutrient value. Nutrient value also decreases every day past harvest. Fruits and vegetables that are in season in far away lands are usually picked before ripeness in order to withstand the thousands of miles and days to get to our local markets.

By purchasing local foods, in season, you are thus able to enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh and more highly nutritious fruits and vegetables while eliminating the environmental damage of shipping foods thousands of miles. Buying seasonally is also more cost-efficient as it is often cheaper to purchase foods grown and shipped locally.In addition, you are able to try a variety of new foods and recipes not tried before when focusing on the current season’s produce.

When questioning what foods work best for the environment, always choose the best possible option.When able, SOUL food or a combination of seasonal, organic, unadulterated or local is best.When having to select between local or organic, ask your vendor if the food is pesticide or hormone free. Often, the food may be unadulterated, but may not have gone through the lengthy and often expensive process of being stamped organic by the USDA.

Always consider the miles travelled for your own and the planet’s health and when in doubt, shop and talk with your local farmer at farmer’s markets. Being aware of your options and making the best possible choice is in itself, eco-conscious. Visit the Local Harvest website to find a farmer’s market near you.

Photo Credit: Jun Belen

About The Author

Manuel Villacorta is a registered dietitian (RD) and certified specialist is sports dietetics (CSSD) with more than 16 years of experience. He was recently appointed national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, which identifies him as one of the United States’ leading weight loss and nutrition experts. Villacorta is the owner of San Francisco-based private practice MV Nutrition, the recipient of two consecutive “Best Bay Area Dietitian” awards (2009 and 2010) from the San Francisco Chronicle and Citysearch, and the creator of the Eating Free™ weight management program. Villacorta also developed MV Professional Nutrition (a software suite designed to assist RDs with their own private practices) and created (an international, Internet-based weight loss and weight management program). Villacorta is a compelling, charismatic communicator—a public speaker, who is often praised for making audiences feel, heard, motivated, and engaged. His warm, approachable style, alongside his strong bilingual proficiency in both English and Spanish, have made him an in-demand health and nutrition expert on both local and national television and radio, and in articles in print publications and online. Villacorta worked closely with Dr. Nancy L. Snyderman, chief medical editor of NBC News, to provide expert nutrition advice on a number of topics for the BeWell network. He is often invited to speak at annual state and national conventions such as The Oregon Dietetic Association (where he was the keynote speaker), and The American Dietetic Association (where he spoke to other dietitian professionals about his successful private practice). Villacorta has acted as a media representative for food companies such as Foster Farms (one of the largest chicken producers on the West Coast) as well as for such California statewide health campaigns as the “California Latino 5-A-Day Program” and “Got Milk.” Prior to setting up his private practice, Villacorta worked as a public health dietitian for California Children Services and the Prenatal to Three Initiative, where he offered prenatal, infant, and childhood nutrition consulting. He has worked as a clinical dietitian for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco and has held a faculty position with the School of Nursing at the University of San Francisco. Villacorta received his bachelor of science in nutrition and physiology metabolism from the University of California, Berkeley, and his master of science in nutrition and food science from San Jose State University. He has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his research, including the Outstanding Master of Science Degree Award from San Jose State University’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science.

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