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Food for Thought – Eat Local

December 11, 2009 | Food for Thought

I finally got around to watching the movie Food, Inc. To say it is life changing is perhaps the wrong way to look at it. It’s only life changing if you fully digest the information and decide to change your life as a result of what you now know. Some people don’t want to see the film because they don’t want to know what’s happening in our food world. I’m just not one of those people.

When I first began learning about where my food came from, I was overwhelmed. I felt horrible about the situation but more importantly felt powerless to change things. (You can read about my journey here.) But the more I pondered the situation, the more I realized that I actually CAN affect change in the food system. I can’t solve the battles in the middle east and I can’t fix the housing crisis, but I can make choices that will dramatically improve the food system. Just remember that it’s not an all or nothing proposition. Every small step you take will have an impact.

One of the hardest things to wrap your head around is whether eating highly nutritious, organic food grown locally is elitist. If the store bought tomato grown conventionally and shipped to Colorado is $1.49 a pound and the gorgeous organic heirloom tomato grown locally is $3.00 a pound, I know which most families are going to choose. Did you know it costs about 3 times as much to raise grass fed, all natural beef than it does the antibiotic injected animals on a large feedlot farm? A California rancher suggested to me that the answer isn’t in the price of meat, but the quantity of it that we eat in this country – far more than other countries, and far more than is healthy for us. If people ate less meat, they could afford to eat better quality meat.

Which brings me to my real food for thought point today – our health care crisis is rooted in our food system crisis. If we fixed what we ate, we could improve our health, and therefore our health care costs would go down. Sound oversimplified? Perhaps. But even if you can’t improve the way everyone eats and solve the health care crisis nationally, why not commit to doing it just for your family? Here are a few simple steps:

  • Eat more vegetables
  • Buy fresh and local produce from a CSA, a local farmers’ market or locally grown foods in your grocery store
  • Eat less meat, but buy higher quality, natural meat from a trusted local farmer or rancher (or ask for locally raised meat in the store)
  • Eat seasonally – you’ll save yourself money and your food will taste better

At the end of the movie Food, Inc. you’ll see suggestions about what you can do to make a difference. If you can’t do all of these things, why not pick one and make it your mission for 2010?

In their words:

“You can vote to change this system. Three times a day.

• Buy from companies that treat workers, animals, and the environment with respect.
• When you go to the supermarket, choose foods that are in season. Buy foods that are organic. Know what’s in your food. Read labels.
• The average meal travels 1,500 miles from the farm to the supermarket. Buy foods that are grown locally. Shop at farmers’ markets. Plant a garden. (Even a small one.)
• Cook a meal with your family and eat together.
• Everyone has a right to healthy food. Make sure your farmers’ market takes food stamps. Ask your school board to provide healthy school lunches.
• The FDA and USDA are supposed to protect you and your family. Tell Congress to enforce food safety standards and re-introduce Kevin’s Law.
• If you say grace, ask for food that will keep us and the planet healthy. You can change the world with every bite.”

                                                          ~Food, Inc.

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