Eco-friendly Eating: Get Yourself and the Environment in Good Shape

A healthy environment goes hand-in-hand with a healthy lifestyle. As active individuals, we run, cycle, play baseball, hike and swim—we also rely on natural foods that come right from the earth. To reach our goals, we need an environment in as good shape as we are.

That's why so many popular trends are focusing on all-natural and eco-friendly diets. The carb-free, fat-free, taste-free days of dieting are in the past. Nutritionists, athletes, dieters and anyone who wants to be healthy recognize that the key to a healthy diet is simply putting natural things into our bodies.

Healthy doesn't mean no carbs and no fat. Nor does healthy mean eating a diet full of supplements to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients. Eating a balanced diet of natural, whole foods and avoiding processed ones—that's the real secret to eating healthy.

This is where eating local enters the picture. People who follow the 100-mile diet and locals-only diets eat only foods that come from local farms. The notion was to eradicate the typical "SUV" diet, where most North Americans eat a meal with ingredients that travel an average of 1,500 miles to the plate—using an average of 17 times as much oil and gas as a local diet.

Local diets not only support small farms and their local communities, but ensure that you eat produce that has been picked inside of 24 hours. There's a big difference in taste and nutritional value when the produce is fresh and ripe. Not only do you get more nutritional bang for your buck with fresh produce, but it tastes better as well.

Many families, individuals and businesses are catching on to this local and natural lifestyle—even restaurants and catering services are starting to lean in this direction.

Eco Caters is a new catering company with services available in San Diego, Los Angeles and everywhere in between. Nicholas Brune and Adam Hiner started Eco Caters with the intention of bringing organic, eco-friendly catering to Southern California and raising awareness for important environmental issues.

"People don't realize what they're putting into their bodies these days," said Hiner. "Preservatives, pesticides and chemicals aren't doing us or the environment any good."

"Chemicals can build up in your body. Some of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, can negatively affect hormone production levels in the body, and produce chemical sensitivity in children," said Brune.

And washing off your produce doesn't always cut it. "When chemical pesticides are sprayed, they end up in our lakes, rivers, streams, oceans and even our drinking water," Brune explained.

When people become aware of these realities, they are more likely to take action. It's making people aware of it that is the hard part. "You can't blame people for not knowing what they're eating is bad. It wasn't until a few years ago that I even considered shopping at health-food stores," Hiner said. "When I moved to California, I was exposed to natural foods for the first time."

"Going to farmers markets and buying local became a regular practice," Hiner continued. "Not to mention the fact that I was living with my sister, who was on the path to being a naturopathic doctor. Every day I would come home to her trying out a new healthy recipe and bringing home vegetables that I had never heard of. At the time, I didn't even realize I was turning in that direction, but I knew I was feeling healthier."

Lifestyle changes don't have to happen overnight. "It's a big change, but it was gradual for me," said Hiner. "I slowly started introducing new foods into my diet and omitting the unhealthy ones. I don't even think about it anymore. It's second-nature. If you told me to drink a green shake when I was living in Virginia and working at McDonald's, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Now it's a part of my life. "

Teaching people that eating healthy can be simple and delicious is tricky. Once they feel the difference, it becomes easy and fun to make healthy decisions for ourselves and the environment.

"That's why we started Eco Caters," continued Hiner. "To show people that organic, all-natural food can be delicious? and you can do it while supporting the environment at the same time."

And how do companies like Eco Caters go "green"?

"Our main goal with Eco Caters is to educate. We hope that by providing organic products—and communicating to our clients why they are healthy and where to find them—our clients will purchase wisely," explained Brune. "We also hope to promote eco-friendly business practices through our website and our use of biodegradable catering products so corporations and family households can begin to live a green lifestyle."

"We use only organic foods, buy produce from local farms where fair-trade practices are used, use only biodegradable products, and support renewable energy and sustainability," said Brune.
"The combination of these things provides healthy services for us and the environment at the same time."

Visit their website at www.ecocaters.com for more information on organic, eco-friendly catering and their customizable services for healthy and environmental-friendly events of every shape and size.

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