I recently watched a video from the Tedx “Next Generation” event of Birke Baehr, an 11-year-old boy speaking about what is wrong with our food system. He discusses how marketers spend millions of dollars trying to get kids to want to eat stuff that isn’t good for them or our planet. He goes on to state that he has decided to be an organic farmer when he grows up as he believes he can make the greatest impact by growing healthy food. And he ends his talk addressing the issue of the higher costs of organic food by pointing out, “It seems to me that we can either pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital.”
The young Mr. Baehr is hitting on a hot topic. Every day I read another article about the rise of childhood diabetes and obesity as well as heart disease in adults. Our packaged, processed fast food world is making us sick. So many of us have no idea where our food is grown, how it is grown and what chemicals are used to produce it. Food, Inc., which recently aired on POV, highlights how corporate America has radically changed the way cattle and chickens are raised. My naïve image of the bucolic farm where the animals are grazing on grass in a sunny field couldn’t be further from the truth.
But there are alternatives. Actually, it is fairly simple. According to Michael Pollan, author of numerous books on food, “Eat food (defined as something with no more than five ingredients). Not too much. Mostly plants.” And where do you find food? One of the best places is to head to your local farmers’ market. Make it a regular part of your week, and include your children. Click here to find a farmers market in your neighborhood. Not only are you supporting local farmers who are trying to grow food without the factory-style approach, but you will be passing down a tradition of healthy eating to your children. And don’t forget to ask questions. No one knows food better than the people who grow it. I have gotten some of my best recipe suggestions from conversations at the farmers’ market.
You also might consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture “CSA.” Basically you buy a “share” in a farm. Then during the growing season usually around June through November you pick up at a designated spot your weekly selection of fruits and vegetables from the farm. It is a great way to learn to eat seasonally and learn about vegetables that you may not be familiar with. I have also gotten to know a great group of people with similar interests in eating local, organic food. Click here to find a CSA in your area.
Lastly, get political. Write your Congress people and Senators about saving farmland in your area. And don’t forget to talk to your local schools and ask what food they are serving in the cafeterias.
In 2006, Francesca Olivieri co-founded the company, sage baby an online eco-friendly baby store offering everything from organic clothes and skincare to furniture. In 2010, Francesca started her own green consulting business and is helping families make changes in their lives to “go green.” She also writes a weekly blog for Whole Living and a monthly blog for The Family Groove as well as contributing articles to Daily Candy Kids, YogaCity, Citiscoop, and NRDC’s simple steps. Francesca lives in New York City with her husband and three kids, ages 10, 8 and 5.