Regardless of any one's political persuasion, I think most everyone can agree that eating is a pretty important thing. After all - if we don't eat, we won't live very long, right? The simplest form of common sense. However, not everyone understands just how important, even critical, it is to eat healthy - and what exactly that means. I have a relative who is a living example of what poor diet looks like. How long can one sustain quality of life on sugar free this and that, diner food and microwave mystery meals? I'm hear to tell you, about 20 years. Then these fantastic and wonderful machines we live in begin to break down due to lack of nutrition.
I am in my last few months as the president of an organic garden club in Dallas, for those of you who may not know that. The DOGC is a group of wonderful people I was introduced to many years ago by the club president back then who was bringing in a group of local food producers to speak to the group on eating organic foods. She graciously invited me as a local organic garden supplies provider to join them. Now, you might think that organic gardeners would automatically eat that way, too. But, not all do and I attribute this to a variety of reasons, primarily I think is information - or misinformation. It is getting better I am happy to say. And that is evident of the snacks that are brought to our meetings. But let's look at one example of how we shop and maybe where some of America's priorities are a bit out of line.
Many of us in the garden club group may shop at boutique garden centers where the products are a bit more costly. But we do so in part to support local small businesses and to find the quality and selection of products we desire that support our hobby of gardening. Often this is not found in big box type places when it comes to plants and organic supplies. (Tho, I'm seeing the latter pop up in a few of them under names previously tied to miraculous products - ahem. I guess everyone wants in on the growing market of organic gardening.) And in other people's hobbies, they often pay a higher price for whatever gadget it is they need/want to have as well.
But where are we getting our food from? It is a common misconception that we must pay a high price tag at a boutique food store to find healthy, organic foods, though this is probably the easiest place to find an abundance of it - or is it? You may be surprised to find what is in your boutique grocery store isn't all organic, very local or without its hidden ingredients when it comes to processed "organic" foods.
We can grow some of the most healthy, nutritious food in our very own neighborhoods, in fact in our own yards, right next to the beautiful roses, cosmos, lavender and other most perfectly beautiful perennial gardens I've ever seen! And I think many of my fellow club members do raise the standard tomatoes and peppers, herbs and a few other select items at home and there is a growing interest to learn how to grow more. But last year we tried to get support of our group to maintain a local community garden plot up at Flag Pole Hill in central Dallas and found many people just honestly didn't have the time. And these are people who love to garden. I fear this is true of home gardens as well. I think we are all rushing so much, we've left out time to tend to an essential part of life. Which leads me to the answer of my previous question; we're buying our food from places all over the world or grabbing it on the run, thus contributing to our own demise and an endless cycle of nonsense. This is where local farms can and do help. We need more of them to really make a difference.
I'll get off my soap box, and let me say, I'm not a purist by far nor mean to be preachy or judging anyone either. Yes, I can be caught redhanded in the cheese fry basket at Snuffers from time to time. But, as Mr. Pollan suggests in the video I've linked below, a treat now and then is normal and perfectly fine. So long as we don't make it a regular ritual. And, I have my eyes opened every day at ways I can be doing things differently and better, too. But I do encourage you to watch the video of this author who was recently on a PBS show. I'm not sure this poor guy really wants to be secretary of anything, as has been suggested, but he does have a lot of good ideas that perhaps should at least be reviewed and considered. Maybe he can be on one of the committees anyway, to represent the eaters' side. We seem to have plenty of representatives of the large family farms and huge corporate farms. I think there needs to be some balance and see nothing wrong with that. We as a country could use a little balance in a lot of areas.
Small farms may not be very well represented on the Hill, but are learning ways to get started and support themselves with the likes of this CSA and more "direct to market" type selling - rather than getting the under priced wholesale values from the middle man. When government subsidizes farm prices to cheapen the cost of food to the wholesale purchasing agent - who pays for those subsidies anyway? Of course we know the answer. The cost is spread around among all who pay taxes. So food isn't really cheap, it is subsidized by everyone who pays taxes and profits those buying it cheaply and reselling it as higher priced processed food to the unsuspecting. In many cases it is nothing more than a box of chemicals with a few food products in the mix and a pretty picture on it. Hooray for the local farming and local eating movement! We can make a difference, right in our own neighborhoods and communities.
Watch the interview - it is actually in two parts so grab a cup of hot herbal tea and ponder over some of what is said. And be proud to know, Eden's Garden CSA members and CSA and local farm supporters everywhere, are already part of the solution!
I can't get the picture out of my head of very young little children who are grossly overweight and surely on thier way to health problems. I can't help but think the parents must surely not realize what kind of future they are setting their little loved ones up for. We all can do a little to help by teaching those around us of the importance of eating your veggies. And eating them grown locally, seems to be the most beneficial to everyone around us for many reasons.
Tell your kids' school you want to see healthy lunch programs. Tell your city council at local events where "free food" is passed out that it shouldn't be hot dogs or doughnuts but fruit or other healthy alternative. Bring a healthy covered dish to work for the potluck dinner and expose your peers to a tasty and healthful treat. If you don't know how to cook - go to one of the local organic or vegan diners that cater and splurge this one time for your co-workers. (Spiral Diner - all I can say is they really have a way with Vegan food, and I'm an omnivore.) Thanks for listening. See you soon on the farm. Things are growing in spite of the lack of sunshine and I may have a harvest week after next to share. I'll keep you posted.
Please keep fellow Eden's Garden CSA members' the Gordon family and the Walker family in your prayers as one family welcomes a very young son home from the hospital diagnosed diabetic and the other family sends an older young son off to Iraq.
Eat Your Food - Naturally!