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How super are ‘superfoods’ anyway? And who really reaps the benefits? In recent years, superfoods have moved from specialty stores to supermarkets, and exotic goji berries, chia seeds, and quinoa have become part of many shopping lists. But does it really have to be so exotic and far away? Don’t we just have superfoods in the Netherlands? We take a look at the impact of different types of exotic superfoods and introduce you to local foods that we also love.
Superfood – with quotes
On the internet, superfoods are sprinkled inappropriately. Well, with the title then. The term is unprotected and quite sensitive to interpretation. There are sites where Bread, peanut butter, salmon, black pudding, or liver are labeled as ‘superfood’. The spectrum is therefore unprecedentedly wide, as is the claim: a superfood is above average healthy and superior to ‘average’ food. We find it vague and unclear. So let’s say that ‘superfood’ is primarily a marketing term, not a definition. And every time you read ‘superfood’, think about the quotes.
2x super exotic ‘superfoods’
We can also call South America the superfood Valhalla. Quinoa, Maca, Amaranth, Inca berries, it all grows there. But because one of the fastest-growing sources of CO2 emissions comes from our food transport, we can better look at local food sources. And not just because of the emissions.
Quinoa (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia)
Quinoa, also known as Andean rice, was simply an important food source for poor farmers for its ‘super’ existence. It contains a lot of proteins, vitamins, and minerals and amino acids that protect the body against viruses. A healthy good, from which the whole world likes to eat a pseudo-grain. So much so that exports flourished and the price skyrocketed, leaving local farmers unable to afford the seeds themselves. They now buy pasta and rice for themselves, which means that they suddenly get much fewer nutrients. Quinoa can simply be grown in the Netherlands! And this is happening now too; that is a great development because then the South American farmers can eat their own quinoa again. You will find it at Quinoa Holland! Grown in a sustainable manner, without pesticides, and therefore wonderfully local. Toppie!
Avocado (Peru, Chile, Kenya, South Africa)
Instagram and health magazines are full of it, the green gold full of unsaturated fats. In vegan recipes, avocado, in the absence of cheese or cream, gives creaminess to soups and sauces. However, the impact of this drupe on the environment and the local farmers is not very tender. Avocado trees grow in areas where water is scarce due to climate change, while the trees require an extreme amount of water to bear fruit. Deforestation, violence, and interference from drug gangs, it’s all linked to the avocados on our plate. Nevertheless, the fruit receives an excellent assessment of the vegetable and fruit calendar from Milieu Centraal. How is that possible? Transportation by boat saves enormously with that by plane and due to the enormous demand, more attention has been paid to working conditions for farmers. You can eat avocados fine according to Milieu Centraal, but rather those from Peru and Kenya than from South Africa. If you can find one from Spain, then you’re all right, but only a small percentage of our import avocados come from there.
5 x ‘home-grown superfoods’
Vitamin bombs and minerals are not only from the high mountains. Our flat country offers hordes of exceptionally nutritious food. Home-grown ‘superfoods’, an introduction:
“One of the most nutritious substances on earth,” says Tim van Koolwijk, the enthusiastic entrepreneur behind Spireaux. Where many Spirulina powders and pills come from Asia or the US, Spireaux simply grows its green cyanobacteria in the Rotterdam basement of Blue City. This saves 99% of water and land compared to other protein sources. In addition to proteins, this sustainable booster is packed with omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The green miracle paste is not yet available in stores, work is still underway. Spireaux will soon be available in restaurants.
An underwater rainforest that absorbs CO2 and exhales oxygen grows in our own North Sea. A forest that filters seawater and forms nurseries for sea animals. It protects the coast from erosion and is packed with proteins, minerals, and ‘vitamin sea’. So top stuff! However, the seaweed forests are vulnerable to ‘wild harvest’ and currently, almost all weeds are harvested in Europe without replanting. To protect the natural seaweed, Zeewaar ensures organic and sustainable cultivation of this sea vegetable, in order to preserve the seaweed lungs of our seas and oceans. Do you want to responsibly add Zeeland seaweed to your diet? Take a look at Wildwier, they offer subscriptions to responsibly harvested seaweed for consumption.
Seaweed is a real powerhouse in your diet that, among other things, helps prevent heart complaints, supports digestion, regulates hormones and, damn, is even more flavourful!
Take a pair of gloves, scissors and a bag with you on your next walk, because these pungent plants are incredibly nutritious and cleansing. 25% of the dried plant consists of protein and the rest is topped with iron, lime, magnesium, vitamins, potassium, calcium, and manganese. In addition, the plant has many medicinal effects, including anti-inflammatory, blood purifying, diuretic, and allergy relieving. During this time of the year, make sure you only use the buds, because the rest of the plant contains too much nitrate in the autumn. Spring is the best time to harvest, but with the autumn buds you can easily make a pesto, or how about soup?
From The Netherlands? Yes, you don’t have to go all the way to China to pick these red berries, they just grow in our little country on the Boksdoorn, a shrub that you find in gardens, dunes and along rivers. The berries are packed with vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, chromium, calcium, iron, copper, nickel, sodium, magnesium, and amino acids.
Strangely enough, we find Dutch growers only for the bushes, not for the berries themselves. On our shelves, you will also find the Chinese variant of the berry, which is often discredited because of the high concentrations of pesticides. Isn’t it strange that it is so unsafe and has to come from so far, while it is just growing nearby? The very best option is, of course, to harvest the berries from your own garden.