I’ll share a secret with you. One of my most quietly enjoyable pleasures, one that nurtures me at a deep level I suspect, is my Saturday morning shopping at our local farmers market. Nothing too earth shattering there and probably that’s the point. It’s so much a part of my weekly routine that I feel a little off balance all week if I don’t make the effort to go! And, as any regular marketer will know, it’s not always easy to brave the early morning chill and sometimes rain or fog to be there before the crowds and queues for the popular stalls. It’s something I generally share with my son who, like me, finds it nurturing to eat food that’s been produced with passion and heart and invariably a lot of hard work.

If it’s hard for us to leave our warm beds at least after the sun is up, how much harder for those smallholders and artisan producers who load their vans well before dawn for the drive into town to be able to serve their eager customers. Today, I picked up a bunch of organic spinach for a delicious sounding soup I’m eager to make and my friendly Vietnamese stallholder tells me it’s almost the last of the season. Just in time! Her whole family works the stall and farm with her and it’s impressive how they bond together. I suspect it’s a familiar story among market communities everywhere.

As we discuss our purchases of grass fed meats, free range eggs, deepwater fish caught overnight, veggies aplenty and the odd treat like decadent chocolate brownies or my current must have, whisky marmalade with 50% fruit (compare that with the supermarket variety) and a good dash of whisky, we can plan meals for the week ahead with delicious anticipation. I’m certain that marketing like this not only makes cooking a pleasure but sustains us in body and soul.

A common complaint of eating organic food is that it costs too much – in my experience not if you pick and choose carefully. The price of meat in my local (big) supermarket frankly staggers me and I often wonder how a family with two or three hungry kids can manage. Even fruit and veggies must often be out of reach. A sign in our local wholefood store hits the nail on the head: “Instead of asking why organic food costs so much, perhaps we should ask instead why processed food is so cheap.”

I think we all know it’s cheap because somewhere along that food chain its integrity has been compromised, maybe many times over, from a giant commercial feedlot to underpaid producers to the removal of natural and its replacement with synthetic. And while it’s cheap at the checkout, the long term cost to individuals and our society at large is huge.

Once again this month, our writers have done their best to keep us informed of the latest health research and invariably it comes back to eating natural, unprocessed food. In “The Truth about Fats”, Peter Dingle Phd makes the case for boosting our intake of omega 3 oils and others like coconut oil, still demonised because it is high in saturated fat. But as Peter tells us, it’s not fat that’s the enemy, it’s the compromised fats that we invariably find in processed foods that is wreaking havoc in our society. And naturopath Lyn Craven in “Anti Ageing Therapy” is emphatic in her advice to avoid all pre packaged and prepared foods as much as possible. In her passionate way she urges us to be particular about what we put into our body.

That’s really what it comes down to isn’t it? Next Saturday, pay a visit to your local farmers market or call in at your neighbourhood wholefood store and see what I mean. Good health!

Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans has a background in teaching, journalism and publishing. She is the editor of NOVA Holistic Journal.