Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Summer of Eating Locally

It has been awhile since I have posted to the WholeKids Pediatrics & Yoga blog.  My apologies for the "leave of absence."

I have had the fortune to be peripherally associated with The Anahata Food Project (initiated by Yoga On High founder Marcia Miller) which is growing fresh food to be donated to a local food pantry.  This pantry's administrator states that the recipients of food aid almost never get fresh green vegetables and fruits.  As a result, these families do not cook very much and the children remain at risk for malnourishment.  This has gotten me really thinking about the state of food and its impact on health.

On a personal note, I have sensitivities to certain foods that I should not consume regularly. Yet I do .... why?  It certainly has to do with the fact that the food tastes good.  It also has to do with bad habits that have been entrenched for awhile.  A recent ayurvedic consultation brought to light for me the need to make some changes.

On a more global note, local foods are making more and more sense to me.  The impact on the environment is so much lower.  Trucking in foods from across the country in the winter days of Ohio makes a little bit of sense, but in the spring/summer and early fall?  Not so much.  We have an abundance of farmers and farmer's markets with the most wonderful of produce, meats, cheeses, milk and flowers.  I walked around the Worthington Farmer's Market this past Saturday and was amazed at the amount of food that is available and is sustainable and/or organic.

One can truly do a week's worth of shopping at the farmer's markets.  It might take a bit of creativity as well as a willingness to try some new veggies and fruits. For the vegetarian eater, the farmer's market is a smorgasbord of wonder.  There were bratwursts, sausages, chicken and beef to delight the non-vegetarian palate - all sustainably raised on Ohio farms. Organicallly raised meat is higher in omega-3 fatty acids compared to conventionally raised meat which is higher in omega-6 fatty acids.  Omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory to the body when consumed in excess.  Our diets should contain about a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.  The standard American diet contains a ratio of these fats on the order of 10:1 or worse.  So, most Americans are consuming a more inflammatory diet.  

Non-organic produce or meat prices have increased dramatically over the past two years and people have noticed their grocery bills rising 10% or more. Our family food purchases are almost 60% organic or local and we have noticed that our grocery bills are fairly stable. Generally speaking, the prices at the farmer's markets are competitive with the grocery stores and the quality of food just can't be beat!  Industrial agriculture is intricately tied into the petroleum business.  I highly recommend a book called The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen.  A brilliant and interesting piece of writing on the state of food in America.  While there is reason to despair at times about the quality of food, Mr. Pollen illustrates many reasons to hope.  Our local farmer's markets and their growth is one shining ray of hope.  

My pledge this summer is to work on eating from my farmer's markets as much as possible. Indian cuisine might get a little challenging but maybe not.  We'll see.  I will be writing about this venture in the blog.  

Our open house this coming Saturday at WholeKids is focused on healthy eating.  Holly Davis, a wellness coach with training in holistic nutrition, will talk about eating locally.  Snowville Creamery, an Ohio dairy, will be making an appearance.  Please come see us at the open house and join me in a summer adventure of eating locally.