“The earth is what we all have in common.”
- Wendell Berry Author, farmer, cultural critic.
It doesn’t get more plain than that, does it? As our lives become busier, more complex, and more stressful, it’s more critical than ever to remember that there is a way to slow things down. You can start with food. Slow food. I have seen incredible things happen, first hand, time and again when people change what they eat, how they eat and why they eat.
The best way to start is to find and identify a clean source of food. What do I mean by clean?
Clean Food: Fresh, bright, delicious foods raised in healthy soil, free from pesticides and chemical treatments. With heirloom and/or organic standard seeds (that -gasp!- get saved and replanted year after year). With animals that roam free and eat grasses and bugs and get plenty of sunshine – I might call this frolicking if I were feeling it –which I am – so frolicking animals, living in as close to a natural habitat as possible. Raised by happy, devoted – free from tyranny -farmers.
Dirty Food: Laden with a toxic and unknowable cocktail of chemicals, pesticides, synthetic hormones, antibiotics, weed killers, and genetically engineered seeds. Unfortunately, this is what you will find in conventional supermarkets, grocery stores, pit stops and gas stations.
Franken Food: Most food that comes in a package or from a fast food restaurant (chick- fil-a counts) containing pink slime, wood pulp, chemical food colorants (affecting ADD and ADHD) plastics and other bizarre additives.
These last two categories are part of the SAD diet — Standard American Diet. Yes, it is sad. If you are suffering from ANY health challenges (I mean ANY), then your food source is the first place you can affect enormous amounts of change.
In this multi-part blog post, I’m going to help define all the new labels and code words so you can better understand what the heck is going on. Because as the organic food industry has grown, so have the greedy industrialists noticed and have put their hand in for a big piece of pie – affecting the “standards, ” creating loopholes, and blurring lines all over the place.
STEP 1. CSA
The first, most powerful step you can make that will change your health, stress, finances and the health and stress of your family and the planet (yes there is an enormous amount of stress on the planet form conventional agriculture) is to join a CSA.
CSA – Community Supported Agriculture
This is literally taking back your health and supporting small local farms that can provide you with fresh, clean, delicious food throughout the growing season. Individuals and families pay an upfront fee which supports the farm, and then receive a box or boxes of fresh harvest weekly or bi monthly (lots of choices here). If you don’t know what you would make with some of these “new” and strange foods from the ground, have no fear – you have a trusty holistic health coach right here (just email me with your questions).
Here are a few benefits:
- The closer you are to your food source (i.e. the soil it is pulled from) the more nutrient dense it because of less travel time.
- You are supporting farmers who are repairing the earth for us (yes) by using sustainable methods and caring for the health of the soil.
- You are taking back the right to clean, fresh food and water for our planet and her people – starting with you - great benefit! (Water will take longer but reducing pesticides, chemicals, animal excrement and anti-biotic runoff into our water is a good start in the right direction)
- Many CSAs offer fresh eggs, and some offer butchered meats or animal shares.
- You are taking a stand against big corporate behemoths who only see profit and feed each others pockets (and that’s always fun to do). Here’s a thought for you: Big Ag keeps plants and animals sickly, which keeps us sickly, which gets us to take more pharmaceuticals from Big Pharma, which based on our excretions, puts these chemicals, anti-biotics (which literally translates to “against life”), hormones, and all else into the waste stream, making our sea life sickly, we’re too tired, not feeling well, drugged out, so we don’t want to be bothered with riding a bicycle or recycling because who has time? So we stay hooked on oil and of course Big Oil loves that… hmm.. so if you’re still reading – join a CSA, feel better and rejoice!
Find a local CSA near you – it’s this easy: localharvest.org/csa/
Step 2: Find a Food Cooperative near you.
This is a great money saver. We used to belong to the Park Slope Food Coop (my grandparents belonged since the early 70′s) and by my estimates we saved about $3000 per year in groceries and sundries.
Not all food coop’s are alike (the Park slope Food Coop is infamous with over 14,000 members and lots of politics, it gets in the papers often). We have a food coop here in Asheville called the French Broad Food Coop, where working is optional, the discounts are a bit less but way more than a Whole Foods (also known as Whole Paycheck). And by the way the holistic, organic food community is now officially snubbing them as they have joined Big AG in support of Genetically Modified foods (I’ll get to GMOs in the next installment).
Find a Food Coop near you: Food Co-op’s often get food in bulk and for much better prices localharvest.org/food-coops/
Step 3: Shop the Farmer’s Market
You may do this already, so you’ll know the benefits of obtaining your food this way. Besides, using a cute bag or basket and bopping around feeling romantic what with your fresh Artisnal bread poking out and your bright greens and fresh cut flowers… farmer’s markets allow you to:
- Speak directly to farmers
- Buy Local
- Practice asking questions, that feel pushy or nosey like, “What are your spraying methods” – the solid answer would be low or no spray, the ones to walk away from are ”I don’t know” or “Conventional Spray, duh.”
- Take time and enjoy shopping for your food instead of rushing through the aisles with yapping kids – let them run around the farmers market and smell stuff.
Farmers’ markets are on the rise (yay!) and depending on your area may have some fiddle music, grape crushing when in season, herbs for sale, and even food to eat – yummy brunch at the Sunday Farmer’s Market anyone?
Find a Farmer’s Market near you: http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/
You may have noticed that Local Harvest has been doing a terrific job of helping us all find access to clean, fresh food and giving us a tangible and powerful way to help heal the earth. Cause she’s all we got.
Stay tuned for my next installment where I will help define the meanings of green-washing, local, seasonal, organic, and other terms that are out there in the cultural flow.
Have a beautiful Earth Day. I’ll be at our local farmer’s market celebrating. Where will you be?