We’ve been getting to know our food a bit better in recent years. Not in in an up-close-and-personal kind of way – we don’t need our chicken to have a name and hobbies (though a chicken who could juggle might make for an interesting marketing campaign). No, we want to know that our food was grown in a way that’s good for us, for farmers, and for the environment. We want to know our kale was tended by people who care about the earth, and not just the bottom line. We want to know that the nutrients in our strawberries fulfill the promise of their ruby red colour. And what about the nutrients we take in the form of vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements?
Well, yes, we want to get to know those, too.
After all, whole foods aren’t just a trend at the dinner table. Today’s nutritional supplements are capturing the benefits of whole foods – such as Natural Factors’ Whole Earth & Sea line, with offerings from multivitamins to bone-health formulas, and more. Like that heirloom tomato from your local farmers’ market, whole food-based supplements bring you the best of what nature has to offer, plus all the benefits of locally grown, locally produced goods.
Whole foods vs. isolated nutrients
The best way to get nutrients is from whole foods. Plants provide a broad spectrum of nutrients, from vitamins and minerals to enzymes and phytonutrients, and the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. Research suggests that nutrients from whole, raw foods are team players; in other words, a valuable synergy allows key vitamins and minerals to work more effectively together, and makes them more bioavailable, so your body can absorb them easily.
Arguably, this means we would fill our plates with an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies three times a day, every day. And if you’ve figured out how to come up with fresh, home-cooked meals while juggling work, kids, exercise, and if you’re lucky, a social life, call us. No, really – you’ve stumbled upon the secret of life, and we want in. For the rest of us, whole food supplements like Whole Earth & Sea can take the pressure off a little.
It’s all about soil
Organic farmers often joke that they grow healthy soil – veggies are just a happy side effect. Like all good jokes, there’s truth in it. After decades of mismanaged soil thanks to the advent of chemical agriculture, certified organic farmers are experiencing a renaissance. Healthy organic soil contains all the vital nutrients that plants need to thrive, and foods grown organically have been shown to contain higher levels of key antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals.
Growing organic herbs, fruits, and veggies for whole food supplements makes perfect sense, according to Jan Slama, Research Scientist for Natural Factors in Kelowna, BC: “The purpose is to control the quality of our products from the ground up.” Jan is speaking of Factors Farms, a certified organic farm in BC’s fertile Okanagan Valley where many of the ingredients for Whole Earth & Sea are sourced.
At Factors Farms, Spring is in the air, and seeds are being sown for another season of locally grown herbs and supplements. 25 years of organic, non-GMO farming experience have taught the farmers here just what it means to grow high-quality ingredients. Soon, the fields will be bursting with colourful echinacea, vibrant greens, and sweet, antioxidant-rich berries. Fertilized only with compost and nitrogen-rich sea plants and meticulously cared for by hand, the plants are harvested at their peak and, just down the road, they’re raw processed to preserve those delicate antioxidants.
Local does it better
Those fields of green could be grown almost anywhere on the planet, but for Jan and the team at Natural Factors, growing at home is important. Sure, you can find Natural Factors and Whole Earth & Sea across North America, but they act more like your friendly neighbour than anything else.
And that’s important to Jan, who says “Canadians want local, organic herbals that they can trust.” For many of us, that means food and supplements grown right here in our own backyard, with all the benefits that come with buying locally grown, locally produced goods: a boost for the local economy, local jobs, sustainability, and healthier communities.
If you’ve made room on your plate for local whole foods, be sure to make room in your medicine cabinet too. After all, life’s a healthy feast – enjoy it whole!