Filed under: Food + Health, Local Events + Action | Tags: Alliance, Community, diet, eat, eating, economy, environment, farm, farmer, Farmers, farming, feel good, food, fresh, get healthy, green, Health, Lawrence Farmers Market, local, Local Burger, lose pounds, lose weight, organic, Prairie, produce, Rolling, sustainable, the Merc, vegetables, well being
Ok, not everyone is like Craig and Charlie Reid from The Proclaimers. Remember them?
When I wake up, well I know I’m gonna be,
I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you.
When I go out, yeah I know I’m gonna be,
gonna be the man who goes along with you.
Here’s when I just hum along and sip a choice beverage until I can yell at the top of my lungs…
But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door.
Yeah, if you looked like these two, you’d probably have to walk 500 miles and then 500 more to convince a girl to go out with you, too. I think they’re cute – but I’m one of those “weird” girls.
Craig and Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers
Photo: © 2003 Persevere Records
Ok, so not all of us are willing to walk the first 500 miles for love, so let’s just start with 100 for our food. According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture and the Worldwatch Institute, the average American meal typically contains food that has traveled 1,500 to 2,500 miles or more before being eaten. Even those of you who have diligently gone organic often buy food products that come from as far away as Argentina and Austria. These well-traveled ingredients consume tons of petroleum products, like gas and oil for the boat, plane and delivery truck, as well as emit tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Other foods are chemically treated, fertilized, sprayed, genetically altered, exploit migrant farm workers and pad the wallets of giant international corporations. Don’t like it? Make different choices and remove yourself from the mass market equation.
What about my health? According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, most exposure to toxic chemicals that cause human diseases, including cancer and Parkinson’s, comes from the food that we choose to eat. Children are especially vulnerable to chemicals found in food, many of which can result in learning and behavioral disabilities.
Knowing where your food comes from and whether it has been raised without pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, genetic modifications, or treated with irradiation, preservatives, covered in wax or gassed to encourage ripening during shipment is important for protecting your own health and the health of your family.
In 2005, a young couple in Canada, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon, confronted their own food choices, their impact on the world and started what is now known as the 100-Mile Diet. I know, I know – those crazy Canadians! For one year, Alisa and James bought and gathered their edibles from within 100 miles of their pad in Vancouver, British Columbia. Their detailed account of the experience can be found on their blog series online.
You don’t have to jump all-in for a year, just start small. Find someone to embark on this food challenge with you – could be your roommate, boyfriend, best friend, family member or even your dog! Pick one meal a week, an entire day, or an entire month, and eat only food and cuisine made from ingredients that came from within 100 miles of Lawrence. Don’t think it’s possible? Look around us; we’re in an ideal location. East of the student ghetto, across the river and even past Hollywood Theaters in all directions we’ve got farmers raising food. Everything from meat, vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs, honey, baked goods and even pet products can be bought from local producers.
The easiest way to get this food on your table is to buy directly from area farmers. Don’t know any farmers? That’s OK, because there are local services like the Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance that will bring bags of fresh, pre-washed, locally grown produce to you. All you have to do is go to the pick-up site (The Merc) and grab your bag.
Yummy, fresh strawberries at a farmers’ market.
Then there is the Lawrence Farmers’ Market. Four days a week, every week from mid-April to mid-November, locally produced food is available at the market. The Merc is our neighborhood food coop and a great place to find local fresh foods with the convenience of a grocery store.
Does this mean I have to cook for myself and always eat at home? Nope. If you’re looking for good food fast, try Local Burger. They cater to the carnivores and herbivores among us with items like burgers, veggie burgers, salads, tofu fillets, soups and smoothies. They make every effort to use fresh, organic, local and sustainable ingredients.
But it’s February, what the hell am I supposed to do during the winter?
Fall vegetables, late season fruit, squash, potatoes, root vegetables, apples, meat, eggs, honey, cheese, bread, jams, pickles, other preserves, greenhouse produce, and warm season foods that have been frozen are available all winter long. It’s funny, maybe Lawrence should start having a Winter Farmers’ Market – after all, Vancouver has one and it’s been wildly successful.
If your time, money and enthusiasm for local foods is limited, here are a few to try your darnedest to get locally or organic whenever possible:
- Bell Peppers
These foods “are laden with the highest amounts of pesticides, chemicals, additives and hormones” according to a recent report from MSN called Top 12 Foods to Eat Organic.
While most food will travel 1500 miles or more to get to the average commercial grocery store, it’s still up to you whether you chose to consume it or not. There’s no need to feel guilty or frustrated about what you can’t change, but there’s plenty you can do to become an aware and informed consumer.
Buy local when you can, try the 100-Mile Diet, or just pick up the top 12 organic foods listed above to reduce the impact your food choices have on the environment. Your choice to buy local keeps your cash in the local economy, fosters community connections, and secures the future of your health and well-being. It feels good too, like singing along to a catchy tune…
Na na na, na na na
Na na na, na na na
Lika lika lika lika lika la
But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles
To fall down at your do-o-or
~ Sarah H
Inspired by Lawrence Sustainability Network articles on food at http://www.lawrencesustainability.net/food.html
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