I’m as keen as the next gal to jump on the latest superfood and suck the life-giving juice out of it. But as someone who strives to eat sustainably and support local growers, I occasionally need check in with my priorities before buying up big on Mangosteen or acai-it’s-pronounced-a-sa-hee powder.
Aussies have a healthy appetite for superfoods, which come from all over the globe and are often “discovered” due to thriving populations of ancient folk dancing the Rhumba in hillside villages. Or something along those lines.
Basically, superfoods are those with superior nutritional profiles – high levels of vitamins, cancer-fighting antioxidants, blood-sugar-stabilising chemical make-ups. All in all, they’re pretty friggen super. But that doesn’t mean they’re Super nutrition versus the environmentnecessarily sustainable.
Here are some things to think about when you’re buying raw cacao powder, goji berries or even less exotic fruits like cherries and blueberries:
How far has this food travelled?
Imported superfoods tend to come with a sorry trail of food miles so you might want to think about limiting your consumption of things like maca and acai. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice good health, mind. There are plenty of locally-grown superfoods available, which I’ll get to in a minute.
What effect has it had on the area where it was grown?
Quinoa, that protein-rich non-grain that we all love (myself included) is grown in the Bolivian Andes. As its popularity surges, growers are ruining the farmlands where it has been grown for thousands of years to meet demand. This suddenly makes it less appealing (read more here). Other superfoods have their own challenges – child labour, corruption, destabilising the local food economy – that are inherent in balancing supply and demand. While it’s true many superfood importers apply fair-trade principles to their business, be aware that there is no way most of these foods can be both cheap and fair – corners must be cut somewhere.
Am I giving this superfood the respect it deserves?
When you think about everything involved in bringing you these incredible foods, be sure to give them some respec’, alright? The most prevalent superfoods in everyone’s diets are chocolate, tea and coffee. In my mind, instant coffee and those Cadbury’s Willy Wonka creation bars do not do justice to the raw ingredient. Similarly, look at how the superfood was processed, packaged and whether you’re consuming it in it’s purest state.
It’s easy to get lost in the hype around superfoods – after all, who doesn’t want to be a cancer-fighting, wrinkle-free ninja? To boost your family’s nutrition, look to homegrown superfoods and focus on these instead of imported wonder-ingredients.
I recently spoke with naturopath Anthia Koullouros from Ovvio Organics and she said, “I think all food is super. Even the humble carrot can absorb endotoxins in the bowel and liver. Make a salad of grated carrot with coconut or olive oil and some apple-cider vinegar and you’ve got a superfood right there.”
Here are some other superfoods made in Oz (just check that they’re local to you!):
- Kale and other dark, leafy greens
- Sweet potato
- Australian-grown chia seeds
- Citrus fruits
- Australian-grown tea
- Whole-fat natural yoghurt
Are you into superfoods? Are there any you can’t live without?