The #1 Lesson I Learned From Living Abroad

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

January 8, 2021

I never used to eat fish.  It just tasted… well, like FISH!  I thought it was slimy, greasy and just plain awful.

Then, I moved to the Caribbean nation of Grenada to live for a few years and everything changed.

I used to wake up with the sun streaming in my window.  Looking down over the mountainside, I would see workers on 10-foot long fishing boats hard at work on the seas.

By eight o’clock, I was getting ready for my classes and I’d see men with wheelbarrows moving the fish towards the market.

Talk about fresh… some of the fish were still flapping!

I’d go down and ask for a length of fish.  The guy would take his machete and clean it up.  Then, I’d take my parcel home, throw on some lime juice, wrap it in paper, and stick it in the fridge.

Late that evening, freshly caught fish became the most amazing and delicious dinner!

We’d also have soup with our meal and the vegetables were literally grown 200 yards away.  They were picked in the morning and cooked in the evening.

That’s just how they ate in the Caribbean.

Throughout my life, I’ve had the fortune to eat many delicious meals like this.  I’ve lived and worked throughout the Caribbean, Central America and even the African Congo.

And you know what?  It’s really eye opening when you leave the comfort of your home, your community, your country, and your culture.

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I got to see how other parts of the world get their food and I was really impressed!

Talk about “farm to table!”

People in some of these areas may have been poor, but they didn’t starve.  They could pick their fresh produce from the local fields — not from a crowded supermarket.

The grocery stores were only for canned goods.  For things like bananas, coconuts, mangos, and all the other fruits and vegetables, there were stands alongside the roads.

People went onto the land, took nature’s bounty and put it right on their table. I was in my late twenties when I was living in the Caribbean and then my early fifties when I was living in Central America.

Those were the healthiest — shall we say — “gastrointestinal” times of my life!

I Learned a Valuable Life Lesson Down There

If I were to pull out some of the most important lessons I learned from this time in my life, it’s this…

Eat local!

Take advantage of your local fruit and vegetable stands.  Take time out of your day to visit the local farmer’s market that pops up on the weekend.  Enjoy the bounty of your local farmer’s fields.

This is a great way to get organic foods free from herbicides and pesticides.

It doesn’t matter where you live in the country.  Chances are you can find a local stand somewhere in your area.

I remember a story from my mother who lived in Camden, New Jersey.  As a kid, she used to wait for the tomato truck to go rambling down the road.  Eventually, a few of the fruits would bump off into the road and she and her friends would scoop them up.

They’d run home, wash them off, and just eat the tomatoes plain with the sweet juices running down their faces.

That’s the way we should be eating whenever possible.

My Trip to the Mushroom Man

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As for me, I just discovered our local Saturday morning market near my own home in Florida.  On one of my visits, I found the mushroom man with a beautiful display of exotic mushrooms.

There were button mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, shiitake, maitake and more I can’t even remember.  I bought a big huge bag of them and eagerly took them home for my dinner.

Once home, I tossed them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and some garlic.  Then, I added sliced rosemary and roasted them in the oven.  It was an absolutely fabulous new taste.

I knew I was getting all of these marvelous nutrients that I needed from mushrooms.  Did you know that mushrooms are actually the most abundant source of ergothioneine (ergo) in our food supply?

This is an important nutrient that protects our DNA and helps keep our cells’ energy factories — mitochondria — working at full speed.

But I digress…

I’m just thrilled that I found this local market so I can enjoy more of these healthy fruits and vegetables for my own meals at home.

Top Reasons Why You Should Eat Local

Keep your gut microbiome healthy.

Your body’s microbiome actually prefers “local.” Why not feed your gut microbes from foods that are locally grown rather than foods shipped in from hundreds of miles away?

Along with eating local, I recommend you eat a rich diet filled with fruits and vegetables of all colors of the rainbow.  This rich bounty, along with a lower consumption of red meat, will help keep your gut filled with healthy bacteria to help you thrive.[1]

Avoid toxic chemicals found in most restaurant foods. 

Cooking from home using locally grown produce is a much better option than eating in a restaurant or ordering take out.

One study found that people who often ate from restaurants had 35% higher levels of phthalates — chemicals that disrupt your hormones.[2] People who cook and eat from home have much lower levels of harmful chemicals in their bloodstreams.

Avoid genetically modified foods (GMOs).

Eating locally is also a great way to avoid GMO foods which contain harmful chemicals that may have long term effects on your health.

Many genetically altered fruits and vegetables are engineered so they can withstand a weed killer called glyphosate.  You probably know it by its more common name — Round Up.  Farmer’s use this chemical to drench their crops so weeds don’t grow.  Once ingested, this poison disrupts your gut microbiome and triggers inflammation in your body.

Local stands are a great way to find organic fruits and vegetables.

And, as you know, organic foods are healthier all around.  They’re better for our planet’s food supply and also taste better.  These organic crops contain higher levels of antioxidants compared to non-organic varieties.[3]  So you get more bang for your buck.

Plus, you’ll probably enjoy that locally grown tomato much better than one that was picked green before it was ripe, then spent weeks being shipped to a grocery store and then stocked on the shelves. (Produce companies actually pump ethylene oxide gas onto tomatoes so they redden up and look better even though the inside still doesn’t taste fully ripe.)

In an August 2011 interview, NPR broadcast “The Unsavory Story Of Industrially-Grown Tomatoes” with Barry Estabrook, the author of the book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. If you want more information, it’s a good read.

I recommend you start buying locally by focusing on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen.”  These are foods that, when conventionally grown, are most likely to be covered in harmful pesticides and herbicides.[4]

I read one story of a family who ate only organic foods for two weeks.  The levels of toxins just plummeted out of their body.   Their fatigue was gone, joint pain disappeared, skin conditions cleared up[5], and they started having regular bowel movements.  Overall, they had more energy and slept much better too!

This is just a glimpse of the health benefits you can enjoy if you also eat locally grown organic produce.  Now, go find your local farmer’s stand!

Sources:

[1] Plant-based foods and Mediterranean diet associated with healthy gut microbiome. Press Release. Spink Health via EurekAlert. Oct 2019.

[2] Varshavsky JR, et al. Dietary sources of cumulative phthalates exposure among the U.S. general population in NHANES 2005–2014. Environment International. Available online 29 March 2018.

[3] Consumer Reports, “The cost of organic food,” Available online:  https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/03/cost-of-organic-food/index.htm

[4] Environmental Working Group, “Dirty Dozen,” 2020. Available online: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

[5] Alternative Medicine Review . Apr2010, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p4-12. 9p.Crinnion, Walter J.

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