If you haven’t heard, today is the first National Food Day sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Among some of the activities taking place around the country, there was an Eat Real “Eat In” at Times Square in New York today at a communal table set up on Military Island, where 50 people including Mario Batali, Jane Brody of the New York Times, and Morgan Spurlock are discussing food issues over lunch. Food Day inspired a “carrotmob” as a “buycott” at a small fresh produce market in Philadelphia. And out in California, a group of lawyers and scientists are taking Food Day as an opportunity to get together to talk about “Food Deserts: Legal, Social and Public Health Challenges.”
As part of the Eat Real agenda, the goal of the day is aimed at reducing diet-related diseases by promoting safe and healthy foods; supporting sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusinesses; expand access to food and to alleviate hunger; protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms and promoting healthy by curbing junk food marketing to kids. If you support these causes, then visit the official website and sign the pledge to Congress. I did.
When you think about all the food inequities and lack of awareness about nutrition in this world, it can make you feel helpless. There are small things we can do though. I think number one is educating ourselves and supporting our local public market, which was voted best in its class last year by the American Farmland Trust.
The past few years have seen some developments in my food awakening. I wish I could say I’ve become converted to growing my own food or purchasing it all from local sources. While I haven’t made a drastic change in my shopping habits, I am much more aware of what I put in my mouth thanks to a few books I’ve read.
I had heard of the term locavore before, but it wasn’t until reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” that I got an eye-opening lesson in what the term really means. The book by author Barbara Kingsolver chronicles her family’s attempt to eat food grown and raised as close to home as possible. It also includes some great recipes which I would recommend trying. They are very simplistic and packed with vitamins and minerals. Your palate might be wondering where all the processed flavors are in these dishes, but I think with time, you might find you could adjust. I tried a few including Chicken Recuerdos De Tuscon (with chicken from the market, not my backyard) and Disappearing Zucchini Orzo. In the future, I want to attempt Kingsolver’s recipe for Asparagus and Morel Bread Pudding and 30-minute mozzarella this year as my first foray into making my own cheese. I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes.
Another must-read is Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food.” Some of the tips that stuck with me after reading his book are:
- Don’t eat it if your grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food.
- Stay away from the center aisles of the grocery store because that’s where the processed food is.
- If it’s made by a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.
- Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
Making food that’s good for you should take a little time, both in shopping for the ingredients and in preparation of the food. That, and you have to have the money to do it. While I wish I could say I’ve made huge advances as a result of educating myself, I do feel that the more I learn, the harder it is to eat ignorantly.