Superfoods are certainly getting their fair share of attention lately. It’s seems a new nutrient-packed food with health-boosting attributes tops the favourites list every other week. It’s wonderful we are learning about the healing benefits of food but there can be a downside when the new fad food is from a far-off land.
Unfortunately some of these imported superfoods have caused great stress on the countries where they are grown. Local people who have used them for centuries as a staple in their diet, in some cases, can no longer afford it because of sudden demand in other parts of the world. Also there can be negative effects on the local environment. The good news is; we produce an excellent variety of superfoods right here in Canada.
From the prairies
A few superfoods grown on the Canadian Prairies are flax, hemp, and buckwheat. All are excellent sources of high quality protein. Flax is an excellent source of Omega 3 oil, an essential fatty acid we all need as part of a healthy diet. Buckwheat is a rich source of flavonoids which helps extend the antioxidant properties of vitamin C. Hemp is a perfect balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 oil. They can be a great grain alternative for people with gluten sensitivities if they are from a gluten-free source.
From your backyard
If your lawn is free of dandelions you are missing out on a great detoxifying food! Dandelion root helps support liver function, can improve blood sugar control, and is used as a diuretic. The leaves are great in salads.
Burdock is another little gem. Growing up on our farm in Manitoba, I remember my father on a vengeance to destroy all of the burdock. He considered it a noxious weed because of the burrs that covered our pants when we walked on our land. Our dog and horse did not appreciate the burrs either. Little did we know, though, burdock has liver-and gallbladder-restoring qualities. It can also help to relieve gout and menopause symptoms.
From the garden or market
Superfoods that are easy to grow locally include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, kale, swiss chard, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, parsley, cilantro, apples, blueberries and cherries…just to name a few.
Our Canadian superfoods are high in vitamins A, C, E, K, a range of B vitamins and minerals like magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium, zinc – and this is only a partial list. The green vegetables also provide us with chlorophyll which is a beneficial phytochemical to assist our bodies with the natural detoxification process. All are an excellent source of fibre and most of us can all use more fibre.
I hope you feel inspired to revisit Canadian superfoods. Go ahead and explore our beautiful backyard which has so much to offer in the way of healing foods. As always, please respect the land and ensure you leave it as beautiful as when you found it (or better!).
Article written for Fresh Vancouver Magazine Issue 30 May/June 2015