written by Dakota Shayne
photography by Two Eagles Marcus
Healthy living is multifaceted and maintaining total wellness is a delicate balance. Exercise alone isn’t going to achieve physical, mental and spiritual health. A combination of fitness, proper food intake and stress management are the basic components to actualize that balance. At the end of the day, and I know you’ve heard it before, you are what you eat. What you put in your body is responsible for a whole lot more than what you look like in the mirror after stepping out of the shower.
Today, we live in an obesogenic environment and society is pretty much designed to promote unhealthy eating habits. Between the fast food chains on every corner and the processed boxes and cans of who knows what in our grocery stores, appropriately fueling your body is far from easy. It’s hard to cut poor eating habits cold turkey and only the disciplined will be successful at resisting the overabundance of ruinous options that infect our food supply.
Giving solid food intake advice isn’t easy either, but here’s a simple rule of thumb; when you go to the grocery store, shop the outer wall (produce, meats, breads, dairy, deli). Once you step into the aisles, your risk of purchasing poor choices increases tremendously. Aisle 1 through whatever, are generally stocked with an infusion of chemical additives and preservatives America calls food.
Let’s dig a little deeper. The outer wall of your supermarket is a safe place to find quality nutritive goods, but there is a better option that is beneficial to you as the consumer, the environment, local economy and our community as well. Have you explored your local farmers markets? You should.
West Michigan is a great place to connect with local food producers and enhance your fueling plan by incorporating fresh, whole foods. I spoke with Christine Helms-Maletic, Project Manager at Fulton Street Farmers Market about the benefits of shopping local and the new plans to renovate Grand Rapids’ oldest and largest farmers market.
“The plans to upgrade are taking place in 3 phases” exclaims Christine.
The first phase is rebuilding the market’s underground infrastructure including its stormwater retention system that was built in 1933. The second phase is to build a new plaza with a sit down community area and widen the open air vendor shed while retaining ample parking space. Last but not least the market plans to construct a 2,000 square foot building that will house 8-12 vendors and restrooms. These renovations are happening to provide a better customer experience and make local, healthy foods available year round, rather than seasonally.
“Our goals will always be wellness, local economy and neighborhood focused.” Says Christine, “The market is important for small family farmers to cut out middlemen and create direct sales and a lot of Uptown business comes from the market. About 80% of market shoppers planned on shopping at another Uptown business.”
The information Christine shared with me was impressive and I appreciate Fulton Street Farmers Market’s community and wellness driven efforts. Whether you decide to become a customer at Fulton Street or explore one of West Michigan’s many markets, I encourage you to make the healthy decision to implement more fresh, local food into your daily meal plan. Fitness is irrelevant if you’re not supporting exercise with proper nutrition. The first and most important step to obtaining optimal health is developing healthy eating habits, and that step begins with knowing how and where to find those health-giving options.