Since the beginning of the 20th century, the term superfood has been used to describe some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet. The medical community has neglected to acknowledge an official definition of the term, but various dictionaries define superfoods as being particularly nutrient-rich foods that can be generally linked to better health and well-being. By this general definition, there are a number of foods that fall into this category; certain other fruits and vegetables are commonly known and acknowledged as superfoods, and are privy to plenty of overt endorsements from the marketing departments of the health food industry, and many for good reason.
Quinoa for example, is a protein-packed seed that is well-known for containing all nine of the essential amino acids that the human body does not produce naturally. Watermelon is another summertime favorite, and is actually linked to lowering the risk of UV exposure and skin cancer, which is likely due to its high levels of vitamins A and C. And of course, leafy greens like kale and spinach are high in antioxidants, iron, calcium, and a host of other essential vitamins and minerals. Most superfoods are said to lower the risk of many diseases, from heart disease to cancer to degenerative diseases. When it comes to choosing your produce, or any food, choosing superfoods are actually more cost efficient than you'd think. While buying the well-known snack brands on sale seems to save money in the moment, spending a little extra on fresh organic fruits and vegetables is far more cost-efficient given that they pack in a lot more nutrients and can also be used in a greater variety of ways if you're willing to get a little creative in the kitchen.
However, some environmentalists would take a similar stand when it comes to the environmentally-friendly claims about superfoods, saying that the environmental impact of harvesting large quantities of these superfoods is also having more of a negative effect than most people would initially suspect. Blueberries are a popular favorite during their growing season, and are equally popular year-round when they are shipped around the country. The United States is the world’s largest producer of blueberries, and the major concern with this superfood is the level of pesticides that is used particularly on blueberry crops. The residue left behind from high chemical use degrades the soil over time, especially when the chemicals are sprayed in the same plots of land year after year. Other superfoods like red palm oil, which is used commonly as cooking oil, are attributed to massive deforestation efforts in South America and Southeast Asia. Habitat destruction of native species is a particular problem with the production process of non-organic superfoods grown in the rainforest climate.
Additionally, by supporting these local farmers, little by little they are being given more power—power that is then taken away from the larger corporations that are responsible for the mass-production of many crops. Despite the augmented prices that we pay up front for the food itself, we are making investments both in the future of the environment, the future of the food industry and in the future of our own health.