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Nothing can elicit anxiety quite as much as the site of empty grocery store shelves. But being able to breath and manage our body’s response to anxiety couldn’t be more of a priority right now. The bottom line: Stress weakens our immune system. So it is truly in our own, our loved one’s, and our whole community’s best interest for us to take care of our body, mind, and spirit at this time. There are very real challenges in how to eat clean during a quarantine. Acquiring enough nutritious, clean food to last through this undetermined amount of time wherein we’ll need to be practicing self-isolation and social distancing is vital. In this guide, you will find important resources to make it happen.
First off, if you’re not able to eat 100% clean during these unprecedented times, don’t let it be an additional source of stress. Truth be told, if you are the number one king or queen of eating clean, but are constantly ramped up by stress and anxiety, all the clean food in the world won’t make a poppy squat of difference to your body. In other words, you’ll just be breaking even health-wise. The goal is to continue eating clean as much as possible while taking serious strides to support your immune system from all angles. Doing so will make a difference in how you fare through this pandemic.
Secondly, I am not a doctor. But, what I have come to understand is that Covid 19 is a bit of a one-two-punch. A person’s immune system needs to be alert and agile enough to detect and target the virus early on, and also be discerning and non-reactive enough to not spiral into a severe inflammatory response that ends up harming one’s own tissue and systems. This means that our food focus should really be on immunomodulation via eating a wide and varying array of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that are as free from chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides as possible. If you want to dig deep on how this type of eating supports our immune system, you can check out this study in the Journal of Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry.
The reason why you want to try and avoid chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides is because our bodies have a really hard time processing these toxins which ends up putting undue stress on our kidneys, liver, endocrine system, and intestinal flora. We need all of our organs and their functions to be in good working order to most efficiently neutralize this virus to which we have no prior immunity.
There has never been a better time to support your local and regional farmers. Unfortunately, most of the Farmers’ Markets where they sell their harvest are now off limits. But the CSA model is ideal for maintaining social distancing practices.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It is a system that, in most cases, allows customers to pre-invest in a farm’s harvest by buying a weekly or bi-weekly share of produce and farm-fresh foods like eggs, cheese and clean meat. Each farm may manage their CSA slightly differently, but many either offer a central location where “shareholders” come and put up their box of goods, and others deliver the boxes to a customers home.
Picking-up a CSA box requires much less social interaction and exposure then going to a grocery store. Way less! Plus, you have the opportunity to find out exactly where your food is coming from and how it is being grown (though I strongly urge all questions and research to be done via email or phone call).
Another benefit of a CSA is that you are much less likely to fall into the pattern of only buying and eating what is familiar to you. Spinach is good for you y’all, but if that is literally the only leafy green that you are eating, you are not supporting the diversity of your microbiome or getting the broad spectrum of nutrients that you need to fully support your immune system.
I recommend going to Local Harvest and search in your area for a CSA that fits your needs and has available shares. Some CSA’s even provide meat, dairy and egg shares!
Take the necessary precautions with washing your produce well with a citrus oil and glycerin based veggie wash. You can also fill your sink or large large bowl with water and a couple of teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide, a few drops of lemon essential oil, and rub down your produce in that; followed by a rinse in clean water. Think of it like “hand washing” for your produce. You don’t just rinse your hands in water and say, “all good!”
When you’re washing your own produce you will need to be mindful to dry everything in order to preserve freshness and prevent bacterial growth. I recommend getting a salad spinner for greens, and this stainless steel collapsible cooling rack makes a great multi-function drying rack for washed fruits and veggies like strawberries and zucchini and so on. Keep an eye out for future posts here on Clean Foodie about ways to preserve and store your produce. 😉
Another option very similar to the CSA model is a site like Narrative Food. Working with farmers directly, Narrative Food curates weekly boxes of farm-fresh food and then delivers them to your home – an even more ideal option for eating clean during a quarantine. If you just so happen to live in southern California, you should definitely consider signing up with Narrative Food.
Okay, this one is potentially very, very useful or a total toss up. During any other time, ordering delivery or curbside pick up from Whole Foods utilizing your Amazon Prime Membership is smooth sailing. But during a pandemic, it is proving to be more complicated to utilize this useful service. Depending on where you live, you may have more success, but in densely populated areas it’s going to be more of a challenge to secure a delivery time and receive the exact items you ordered. But if you are okay with rolling the dice on some of the items you order, you’ll have the huge benefit of not having to physically go into the store.
Now here’s the real tea. If you’re ordering from Whole Foods, you are likely competing with other shoppers who also put a priority on “clean” eating. So there is a high likelihood that when the shopper goes to build your order they may have run out of organic options and will suggest conventional items as a substitute. It will have to be your call on how badly you need that item and if you are willing to substitute with non-organic. Not ideal, but let’s be real people, we’re in the middle of a global crisis and will need to roll with the punches a bit in your quest to eat clean during quarantine.
We highly recommend searching for the Clean Foodie approved establishments in your area, giving them a call and ordering take out! Many are still cooking up delicious clean eats in their kitchen and could certainly use your business during this difficult time. Try new places and discover new favorites! Heck, you know what sounds fun? Broaden your search to places up to an hour away, take the scenic route, pick up your delicious eats, find a lovely parking spot with a view and chow down! If you’re off the beaten path far enough, maybe you can even go for a nature walk after your meal. Let’s be honest, driving and eating in your car has never felt so liberating!
Depending on where you live, your local grocery store probably has a partnership with Instacart, Shipt, Favor, or something similar. These platforms have made it super easy for grocery stores to offer an online “shopping cart” that customers can use online to pick and pre-purchase the items. Shoppers bag together the customers products which are then available for curbside pick-up or doorside delivery. There’s usually a minimum purchase requirement and/or a service charge, but that makes total sense given the circumstances. And there are TONS of different stores using these services. For example, you can take advantage of Costco’s excellent organic offerings, as well as Wegmans, Publix, Aldi, Kroger, Target, Walmart, HEB and many more. Much like shopping at Whole Foods with Amazon Prime you’ll need to prepare yourself for limited delivery time slots and some sold out items, but for the most part, you should be in great shape using any of these services from whatever your local store of choice may be.
Thrive Market is an excellent source of quality, clean, reasonably priced pantry items, meat, seafood, and wine. Keep in mind, our entire supply & distribution systems are being very taxed right now and Thrive is very up front about their shipping time being delayed up to ten days. Hopefully sometime soon, Thrive will be back to taking only 3 to 4 days to deliver orders. In the meantime, it’s a great time to start building a list in your account of non perishable items that’ll make planning and making meals much easier. If you’re not familiar with Thrive, I highly recommend checking out our Thrive Market review on Clean Foodie.
There are more “healthy” meal delivery services out there you can shake a stick at, but truth be told, you are going to be hard pressed to find one that guarantees organic ingredients 100% of the time. Even with that being the case, many of them still guarantee no additives, preservatives, and refined sugars. If you are among the many people who have realized that half of your life has become about food prep now that you are in lockdown, you may be willing to loosen up your standards, in exchange for fresh, healthy meals that require less effort on your end. That being said, GreenChef is a meal delivery service that is USDA certified organic. And Sun Basket and also promise all organic ingredients. Among the other subscription services that are worth considering are the aforementioned CSA-model Narrative Food (for residents in SoCal), PurpleCarrot, Freshology, and HungryRoot. And for those of you who’d like to keep your organic smoothie habit going, there is also Daily Harvest which can keep you flush in smoothies, harvest bowl, oat bowls and chia bowls.
Fresh leafy greens are super perishable, and if we are in the habit of making them a regular part of our diet we would normally go to the market pretty frequently to buy more as we need them. Popping into the shop every other day isn’t a wise option in your quest to eat clean during quarantine, so a great way to plan ahead and for the long term is to set up an indoor garden kit that will provide you with herbs and leafy greens that will continue to replenish themselves.
Also, there is nothing like a few fresh herbs or green to liven up a dish and help you forget that you are eating a meal made almost entirely out of canned goods. Depending on how much you want to grow or how much space you have, there are indoor garden kits small enough to sit on your counter and others large enough to feed a family of four. This latter option, as seen in the video below is a must-have if you want to be prepared for future pandemics.
Early spring is the perfect time to plant an outdoor garden! And what I love about this option is that it not only increases our access to fresh organic produce, it’s also an excellent way to stave of boredom and help you get some much needed fresh air! Elevated garden beds are ideal because they are easy to set up and even easier (on your back) to maintain. If you are just starting out as a gardener, I really recommend that you plant seedlings instead of trying to cultivate from seed. The Tasteful Garden site has a really great selection of vegetable herbs and fruit seedlings that they deliver right to your door. Plus, I love all the resources they provide for a beginning gardener, like this garden planner and tons of tips and tricks on how to make the most of your vegetable garden. You can even cook in your garden with a stove like this.
Even if you take advantage of all these different ways to stay isolated and continue eating clean during a quarantine, you may still need to go out into the world on rare and necessary occasions.
The CDC has recommended that if possible people should wear a surgical or homemade mask when in public. This is more to protect others from yourself if you may happen to be an asymptomatic carrier. Do NOT. I repeat. DO NOT hoard N95 masks which are desperately needed by the brave men and women in our medical community. This is why I think making your own mask with supplies you already have in your house is the socially responsible way to go. There are so many creative ways to still provide yourself some protection while dramatically decreasing the odds that you may unwittingly infect someone else while you’re in public.
Ladies, do you have a lightly padded bra you don’t particularly care for? You can make two face masks out of it! Have some make-up remover wipes? You can dry then out and create a makeshift mask! The non woven fabric of the wipes are ideal for filtration purposes, in comparison to a woven fabric. And then there are also tons of patterns for fabric homemade masks as well. But if you are really hard pressed, you can go the same route as this ingenious Italian gentleman who demonstrated how to use a maxi-pad as a face mask. Fantastico!