In a game known for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and late-night stops on the road, it is important to find ways to eat as healthy as possible. While most people know about the difficulty of eating out while on the road, I've found eating healthier at home to be far less challenging than I ever expected.

Salem, Va., and its larger sister city Roanoke, both offer some really good places to shop for food. While at home we are fortunate to have a grocery store less than a half mile down the road. Three to four times a week I will go for a walk to the grocery store, using it as an opportunity to get some fresh air and to pick up groceries.

Near downtown Roanoke there is a great place called the Roanoke Natural Food Co-op. They have a lot of local fresh food with most of it coming from within 50 miles.

While shopping there I always enjoy talking with the employees about where their produce comes from and how much of it comes specifically from the San Joaquin Valley.

On a regular basis I will see names like Grimmway Farms and Bolthouse Farms. The employees always know the names but I'm always surprised how often they aren't familiar with where it is.

I am always amazed at how far products from Bakersfield and the San Joaquin Valley travel, but realize it is a testament to the quality of the food they make.

We have a full kitchen at our townhouse so any chance I get to cook, I try to take full advantage of it. While cooking with vegetables and spices has never been my strong suit, it is becoming an enjoyable part of my life.

Currently, I have three roommates (and 27 teammates) who have become guinea pigs for new meals. While it isn't quite Emeril, it also isn't Chef Boyardee.

I try to cook healthy meals while still meeting our caloric needs for the day. It is a challenge since vegetables are low in calories and yet are a necessary part of the diet. I've worked with our team nutritionist to find ways to add quality calories to each meal.

In the off-season when I would visit my parents, they were gracious enough to let me cook for them. It was usually a mixture of rough and not so bad, but they were wonderful at supporting my new interest.

While my parents, my nutrition professor at Cal State Bakersfield and Mrs. Glenn (my 9th grade Home Economics teacher) taught me a lot of about nutrition, I never quite grasped how important food is to your health.

Frequently, we think it is just athletes who need to prioritize nutrition because of the demand they place on their bodies, but I think it is important for everyone.

I think as a community and a nation we need to prioritize nutrition more than we do. The rates of obesity and heart disease continuing to climb at astronomical rates.

Eating lean meats and prioritizing whole grains while avoiding excessive sugar and high amounts of fat are important for everyone, not just athletes.

The food we eat is vital to maintaining our physical, mental and emotional health. Vitamins and nutrients are extremely important and play a far larger role in our everyday life than we realize.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms! You mean far more to us than we will ever be able to express.

McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays for the Salem (Va.) Red Sox, the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. His column runs Sundays throughout the baseball season. He can be reached at