Top News

Eating healthy on a budget not as difficult in the Valley as one may think: dietitian

Dietitian Beverley Noseworthy of the Wolfville Nutrition Centre says Valley residents are blessed with healthy options due to the abundance of farmers in the area. (Randy P. Noseworthy)
Dietitian Beverley Noseworthy of the Wolfville Nutrition Centre says Valley residents are blessed with healthy options due to the abundance of farmers in the area. (Randy P. Noseworthy) - Contributed

WOLFVILLE, N.S. - Eating healthy while counting pennies may not be as difficult for residents living in the Valley versus other areas of the province.

Due to the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables available locally, be it at the farm gate, U-Picks or farmers’ markets, savvy shoppers can stock up on healthy food while supporting the local economy, says one local dietitian.

“According to most of the studies and Health Canada and all the research, they indicate that diet is the No. 1 risk factor for chronic disease,” said dietitian Beverley Noseworthy, of the Wolfville Nutrition Centre, in a phone interview from Newfoundland.

Noseworthy said most of the clients she sees arrive with health concerns and are seeking guidance in how they might improve their health or maintain their health by eating well.

With the Valley’s bountiful harvest, Noseworthy said residents have access to fresh, healthy options pretty well all year.

“We’re so fortunate for living in Nova Scotia and our access to great food, especially fresh food. In the Valley, we’re surrounded by farms and orchards and fields... it’s wonderful to see,” she said.

“It would certainly be great if people could take advantage of purchasing from their local farms. They’re usually quite fresh and the prices are usually quite reasonable,” she added. “Buying in season, the prices are usually lower than say in the wintertime if we’re purchasing something not from the province or stored here. We will pay for all of the travel expenses to get that food to us, if it’s fresh.”

Keith Colwell, the provincial minister of agriculture, said supporting local farmers directly impacts the economy and means better food security for Nova Scotians in the long run.

“A lot of people think that you’re always going to have food supply but there’s going to be a world shortage of food in the next 20 or 30 years as the population of the world grows,” said Colwell.

It’s important to have strong food security should there ever be a provincial disaster, he added.

Colwell said due to Canada’s strict rules when it comes to local food quality and control, Nova Scotians know they’re getting the best product available. However, he said some imported products may not have as many checks in place due to different regulations in the country of origin.

He said every dollar spent on local food goes a long way to making the province’s food supply more secure and sustainable.

“On top of all that, it really does help grow our economy and help our families make a living in the province so that their children can stay and their grandchildren can stay and work in Nova Scotia and help Nova Scotia grow and the country grow,” he said.

Tips for eating healthy

Noseworthy said citizens can save money by buying in bulk.

“Buy in season. There’s so much coming to us now as the harvest season approaches. Our local apples, berries are available. Usually strawberries are available most of the summer now,” said Noseworthy.

“Price-wise, I usually keep a big bag of Nova Scotia wild blueberries in the freezer. It’s so nutritious and it’s a more affordable way to add a few berries to your cereal in the morning throughout the winter months,” she said.

Noseworthy said whole grains are also key to a healthy diet – and can also be bought in bulk.

“Usually we recommend that most of our servings of grains be whole grains and one really economical one and really versatile one is oat. That’s often available at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market,” she said.

“A lot of people are into soaking their oatmeal and making a parfait in the night to have a grab and go breakfast in the morning rather than having to spend a lot of time trying to make breakfast,” Noseworthy said, before cautioning consumers to check the package to make sure the type of oat they’re using is safe to eat uncooked.

Oats, which can be made into granola or ground into flour, are quite a nutritious option for those looking to eat healthy on a shoestring budget.

“The majority of Canadians need to increase their fruit and vegetable intake... and cooking at home would go a long way in improving our health and getting our nutrient intake every day,” said Noseworthy.

As for getting enough protein, Noseworthy said people don’t need to rely only on meat.

“Very often, people who are on a budget are concerned about the price of getting protein. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are economical,” said Noseworthy. “Beans and nuts and seeds – they’re all great sources of protein, too. They’re certainly economical, too. You can buy the packages of dried beans and peas and soak them and cook them yourself, or you can buy cans of the plain baked beans, without added sauces, and then add them to soups and stews and make burgers out of them. They’re very versatile.”

To learn more about healthy eating or to download or print a copy of Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/canada-food-guide/get-your-copy.html.

Read the entire BACK ON THE FARM SERIES: A collection devoted to a vital industry in the Annapolis Valley:

Recent Stories