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10 things you can do to change your health and our food system

In a perfect world, we would all be eating fresh, local, organic food from our own gardens. Unfortunately that utopia has not been a reality for a long time now. Instead, our food travels long distance, sometimes from thousands of miles away, losing freshness and nutrients along the way. Here are 10 strategies to help you jump start your health and help change our food system:

  1. Cook seasonal foods at home. While cooking might seem laborious at first, know that it’s the single most important thing you can do to change your health. Cooking seasonally also ensures that your food does not travel from distant continents. Eating seasonally helps to strengthen your immune system, protect the environment and support nearby farmers.
  2. Eat less meat. Consider going meatless on a regular basis whether it’s a Meatless Monday or Friday.  It will force you to be more creative with vegetables and legumes as your source of protein. Check out www.meatlessmonday.com to learn about the movement and get ideas on how to involve the whole family.
  3. Choose local grass fed meat. Don’t go for convenience and keep buying factory raised, corn fed meat. Purchase humanly raised free range animals. If you can’t find local meat near you check out www.eatwild.com to find farmers that will ship. Vote with your dollars and your time.
  4. Shop at farmers markets. Most cities and towns have a market from May or June to late November or even December. Produce from farmers markets is typically fresher and less likely to be sprayed with dangerous pesticides. Buy your vegetables, meat and bread, talk to the farmers, ask how they grow your food, get curious.
  5. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA allows you to buy fresh, local and often organic produce grown by regional farmers. When you become a member of a CSA, you’re buying  a “share” of vegetables or fruits which will be delivered to a drop-off location in your neighborhood each week throughout the farming season. Go to www.localharvest.org to find a CSA near you.
  6. Consider starting a garden. Start small with a raised bed and a few easy to grow vegetables. It’s so satisfying to see little sprouts grow into delicious food at the end of the season. You just can’t find that experience and taste at a supermarket.
  7. Watch food documentaries. There are many films out there that will inspire and motivate you, I am not talking about gruesome images to scare the wits out of you but thoughtful accounts about how convenience and value trump health and environmental impact. Start with Food, Inc, Forks over Knives and Food Matters. Pictures are worth a thousand words.
  8. Read nutrition books.  Start with “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. It’s a well researched book with practical solutions to make some healthy changes. Knowledge is power.
  9. Involve your family. Share your knowledge and discuss sustainable agriculture with your kids and significant other. Show them this video. http://www.themeatrix.com/?video=u4_pzPrMTrs. If you don’t feel supported by your family there is less chance that you will be able to make lasting changes.
  10. Patronize restaurants that support local agriculture. Let the owner know that it’s important to you.

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