|By Lars Plougmann (Flickr: Austin downtown farmers' market), via Wikimedia Commons|
by Lisa Chase, coauthor (with Vern Grubinger) of Food, Farms, and Community: Exploring Food Systems
Ring in the New Year with a new twist on an old resolution. The most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and eat healthier. In this era of global climate change, big box stores, and corporate agriculture, it’s time to expand on that resolution. Don’t just eat better for you. Eat better for your community and for the environment. You can do all three at the same time.
Here are 5 ways to eat healthier for yourself, your community, and the environment:
1. Eat your veggies.
Like Mom always said. She was right then and she’s not only right now -- she’s righteous. You can reduce your carbon footprint and your waistline with a diet high in organic vegetables and whole grains. Fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and all sorts of good things that scientist have yet to figure out how to replicate in the lab.
2. Buy local and organic when you can.
Be picky about your veggies. Pay attention to where they come from and how they are grown. Fresh produce tastes better and is better for you. Plus supporting local farms gives back to your community and the working landscape. Don’t stop at produce; choose eggs, milk, cheese, meat and other staples that can be produced locally.
3. Cook at home.
Proponents of home cooking argue that this lost art is a way to combat obesity, save money, and have full control over what you eat. Opponents say it’s not realistic and we should look to processed food that is healthier as the solution to America’s obesity epidemic. You get to decide for yourself with every bite you take. If you don’t enjoy cooking or don’t have time for it, buy prepared foods that are fresh and wholesome.
4. Go ahead and splurge.
Denying yourself can backfire and lead to binging. Enjoy those French fries and chocolates every now and then. Look for the Fair Trade and Food Justice Certified labels so you can support fair treatment for workers even while you indulge. When you eat out, choose restaurants in keeping with your values. (If you're in Vermont like me, visit www.DigInVT.com to find out where to eat meals made with fresh, local ingredients.)
5. Remember those less fortunate.
One in seven families in the U.S. doesn’t have enough to eat. Give to a food bank. Better yet, volunteer at a food shelf by bringing in gleanings from farm fields or helping in the kitchen. Then you can lend a hand creating wholesome meals that nourish your community, literally.
Celebrate the local bounty wherever you are, at home or while you’re traveling. Whether you’re buying carrots, corn, coffee, chocolate, or cheese, pay attention to where your food comes from and how it is produced.
To learn more about eating healthy for yourself, your community, and the environment, read Food, Farms, and Community: Exploring Food Systems by Lisa Chase and Vern Grubinger.