Awareness of the benefits of eating healthy food is at an all-time high, with numerous studies showing it contributes greatly to personal wellbeing.
In basic terms a balanced diet consists of foods from five groups – vegetables, fruits, protein, grains and dairy.
However, understanding what constitutes a good diet seems to change on a regular basis, making it difficult to keeping up-to-speed with what you should be eating.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), building a balanced plate at meal times is the key to a healthy diet.
The USDA says that half the plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, while the remainder should be made up of grains and proteins. Each meal should be accompanied with a serving of a low-fat dairy product.
Sticking to these general guidelines and taking regular daily exercise helps people to stay healthy and retain a good level of personal fitness.
Eating foods from reputable and sustainable sources also plays a major part in a modern healthy diet, helping to ensure that what we consume is of the requisite quality.
Read on as we look at five changes you could make to your diet by focusing on the sources of the produce and how this contributes to healthier eating.
Grass-fed meat beats the competition hands-down
People can get their daily protein requirement from a variety of sources, but one of the most popular ways remains eating meats such as beef and pork.
Standards often vary when it comes to meat production and it generally follows that cheaper is not always the best.
Research has shown that one of the best producers of beef are Red Devon Cattle, a breed that Cove Creek Farm In Tennessee have specialised in over the past few years.
Red Devon is a pure grass-fed breed whose genetics originate from before the beef industry shifted towards grain-fed cattle.
They are native to the south-west of England, but were introduced to the Americas back in 1623 when the Pilgrims transported a bull and three heifers to the Plymouth Colony.
The beef they produce is tastier than grain-fed produce and has been proven to be the healthiest way you can consume this type of meat.
Support local vegetable growers
Many people rely on mass produced sources for the vegetables they eat, generally using big supermarkets to buy this type of produce.
Smaller-scale vegetable growers have struggled to compete, although shifts in consumer habits are sparking a change in some regions.
In Western Canada, the Federated Co-op Ltd teamed up with Prairie Fresh Food Corp to create a stable outlet for locally produced vegetables.
Bryan Kosteroski of Prairie Fresh Food Corp has been a long-standing advocate of locally-grown vegetables, both from a healthy eating and a business perspective.
“You’re seeing farmers’ markets expanding and that’s great,” he said. “But you’re also seeing major Canadian retailers buying more and more, and demanding more and more fresh vegetables and fruits from Western Canadian producers.
“When you can go buy a western Canadian grown radish in November in the store, what is that telling you? There’s innovation happening. You’re seeing more and more fresh vegetables going longer and longer every year and sooner and sooner every year in the seasons.
Identify top-class sources of fruit
The fruit growing industry is hugely competitive, with the desire amongst consumers to shave a few cents off the selling price often resulting in a drop in quality.
Eating fruit on a daily basis is a key component and it is important to ensure that the produce you consume is up to scratch.
In Canada, the Norfolk Fruit Growers’ Association accounts for 12% of all the apples produced by Ontario’s 225 commercial growers.
They strive to continuously improve the quality of fruit, ensuring that standards remain top notch throughout the year.
The Association’s produce is sold across North America and around the world, with many of its growers boasting decades of experience within the industry.
Buying fruit that has come from this route not only supports local businesses, but also gives you the peace of mind that you are eating healthy produce.
Eat organic grains
The United States grows a massive amount of grains, but the production of organic grains has been less prevalent.
The US Organic Grain Collaboration and the Organic Trade Association have teamed up to address the situation, offering support to stakeholders within the industry.
It aims to ramp up organic grain production over the coming years and has urged people to change from non-organic or imported grain products.
More than $400 million of grains and soybeans were imported to the US back in 2016, with a fair proportion of that being low-quality produce.
Increasing the amount of home-grown organic grains and changing consumer habits will undoubtedly prove to be a win-win situation from both a business and health perspective.
Switch to oat-based dairy
The popularity of oat-based dairy alternatives has been on the rise in the US over the past few years and the trend has been tipped to continue in the future.
According to Statista, the value of the alternatives to dairy milk industry in the US could rise to between $6-8 billion by 2024.
US sales of conventional dairy milk fell to $13.6bn in 2018, a decrease of more than $1bn on the previous year’s figure.
This has been driven by an increasing awareness amongst consumers of health and wellness benefits of consuming alternatives to dairy.
Brands such as Halo Top, Oatly and Mooala have grown massively in the US in recent times, sparking major firms like Danone into action.
The boom is expected to continue over the coming years as an increasing number of people switch onto the health benefits of dairy alternatives.