We form habits, and we depend on them nearly every day because they make our busy lives easier.
Now, as summer transitions into fall, we have the perfect opportunity to develop new habits that affect our health and wellbeing in positive ways. The food we eat, and therefore our health, is strongly impacted by our food purchasing habits–What better way to develop those habits than by changing the way we shop?
The Hartman Group’s Report of 2014’s U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends indicates “75% of consumers say they shop at a grocery store at least once a week.” Because of this frequency, the simple act of grocery shopping triggers habitual responses whether we’re aware of it or not— like buying the same items, or taking the same route.
Summer encourages us to get in the habit of buying fresh, local produce. But as the season changes, so do our schedules and the availability of fresh produce. It’s a good time for us to intentionally create new routines and take advantage of what’s available.
So, here are three easy habits you can make in your diet and grocery shopping routine. They’ll help you become a more conscious food consumer and simultaneously provide you and your family with healthy, local food.
Look for the Orange Labels: You’ll find Taste the Local Difference® marketing materials highlighting locally grown & produced goods in grocery stores throughout northern Michigan. Branded materials — like the bright orange hand decals on the floor of the store— are placed directly in front of you to grab your attention and alert you of local choices nearby. Think of it as a treasure hunt, where ‘X’ marks the spot and the treasure is delicious local food!
Pack Local for Lunch: Challenge yourself to include a local fruit or vegetable in your lunch (and your kids lunch!). There are plenty of these delicious additions to go around, even well into winter. Consider how easy it is to toss a Michigan apple into your bag, mix up a salad of local greens, or slice up a few sweet carrots! Do this on a daily basis, and you’ll remind yourself of the goodness of including fresh, healthy food in your diet. Soon enough you’ll aim to include a local fruit or veggie in every meal!
Try Something New: We frequently purchase the same products over and over again, without question, for no reason other than the fact that we haven’t considered alternatives. If you’ve been purchasing a certain brand for years and can’t remember why — then try something new, better yet something local! Popular brands like JIF® or Welch’s® have a number of local alternatives. In fact, most of the food we eat can be found grown or made locally.
As the daze of summer begins to clear, we have a perfect opportunity to change with the season and develop new, healthy approaches to shopping and eating. You can use these tips to make easy, beneficial changes to your routine—and fall into habits worth repeating.
*This article was originally printed in the Traverse City Record Eagle on Saturday, September 19th 2015.