Most of us could use some improvement in our eating habits, I know I could. Here on St. Croix we are lucky enough to have a diverse island that offers an abundance of locally grown produce, fresh caught seafood, and locally raised meats, so take advantage! Here are some great ways for you to eat healthier this year:
Eat more locally grown fruits and vegetables, preferably in season.
We’ve all heard it since we were kids: “Eat your fruits and veggies”. While this is still good advice, it is sometimes easier said than done. To help yourself get excited about eating more fruits and veggies, try shopping at a few of the many farm stands and farmers markets on St. Croix which offer locally grown and seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs, bush tea, and more. Another fun way to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables is to try some new ones! Some popular produce items grown here on St. Croix include: carambola (or starfruit), mangoes, guava, passion fruit, papaya, soursop, sugar apples, tamarind, culuntro, moringa, kale, squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, and breadfruit. Click here for a list of local farm stands and farmers markets to check out.
Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
A CSA, such as the one offered by Ridge to Reef Farm, is a network of individuals who have pledged to financially support a local farm or grower, sharing both the risks and benefits of local food production with the growers. CSA members pay a set amount at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest. Then, once harvesting begins, CAS members receive weekly shares in the form of mixed boxes of produce from the grower. Not only will participating in a CSA give you a mix of great local and seasonal produce that will healthy and fresh, but it also supports and benefits the island community.
Eat more fish.
Fish is a great source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Locally, St. Croix offers an abundance of wahoo, mahi mahi, snapper, and kingfish, just to name a few. Fresh fish is easy to get here on the island, you can find it in just about every restaurant, at roadside fish stands, at local farmers markets, and even in the grocery stores. Or, you can take a fishing charter out and catch fresh fish yourself! Just remember when cooking your fish at home, or ordering it at a restaurant, opt for grilled or blackened preparations instead of fried or covered in a heavy cream sauce to keep it lean and healthy.
Eat locally raised meats.
Annaly Farms and Sejah Farms both offer meat raised right here on St. Croix including Senepol beef, chicken, lamb, pork, or goat. Fresh eggs are also available from several local farms and at the farmers markets! Not only does locally raised meat taste better, but it is less of an environmental impact and helps maintain farmland and green space on the island.
In general, focus on eating foods that are minimally processed (or better yet, not processed at all), avoid artificial chemicals and unnatural foods, and minimize your intake of sugars, alcohol, and unhealthy fats. Basically, the closer your food is to nature, the better! Also, remember to watch your portion sizes, and drink plenty of water. May 2015 be the year for a healthier new you!
– Jennie Ogden, Editor