At the end of last month's post I wrote - A dismal sounding story? Stay tuned for Part II when we bring a bit of good news to the picture!! So, what is the good news? More label reading and more products available or a trendy new diet plan? No, and a definite NO to the last. Instead of the focusing on just the gluten-free issue, turn the other way and consider - what are the allergies or sensitivities? Using that base, let's plan for a healthy eating!
Lately, we hear a lot about eating real food. Does this just mean to each person whatever they want it to mean? No, not really, it's an outgrowth of the last decade or so. We first heard about "locavores", people who purchased as much of their food as they could locally. From there it became more general to "eat local". Accompanying these two has been an increase in the number and size of farmers' markets. And we hear more about "farm to table", usually referring to the movement to serve locally grown food in restaurants and other institutional settings. Or "farm to plate" which focus on the family setting. More grocery stores and restaurants are highlighting what is locally grown or produced (in reaction to customer desire).
Another thing we need to consider is eating in season. That means the season you live in, not what is sold in season at the grocery store! If it ships from Argentina in the winter, it doesn't count. Some are also concerned to eat what is organically produced. And have you thought about how to eliminate processed foods that contain extra ingredients to preserve and extend the shelf life? Does it get too confusing or what???
So, are we joining in on another movement? No, again! To establish a healthy eating plan -
decide availability and percentages to purchase locally
do eat in season from what's available in your area
discard as many processed foods as possible
Now you're on the way! For some, the best plan is to grow some of their own, maybe even have chickens. For others, they are restricted by time, energy, or land. Thankfully, there are many resources to point the way to getting good local foods.
The bylaws of most Farmers' Markets require vendors to produce their own products within a certain distance from the market. A quick search for our state yields this site http://www.vtfarmtoplate.com/ which not only lists the farmers' markets but the dates they are open, days they run, and the times. They also provide maps of each location and contact information. A quick search with your state added is the best search.
Community Gardens may not be available in every community but in some there are many and located by neighborhood! This site allows a search for a local garden area https://communitygarden.org/
CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) are also much easier to find for those who cannot grow their own. Often farms with a CSA program attend farmers' markets so you can purchase and try out their products. While some sell just fruits and vegetables, others offer eggs, meat and dairy products in various CSA packages. Many welcome tours of the farm. Now is the season to sign up!
And last, a couple words or warning - if the healthy eating plan includes starting to grow or do more of your own, start slow - don't overwhelm and defeat the effort so it dies in a quick fizzle! And consider, even local foods sold in the neighborhood market are trucked from somewhere. For yourself, if you drive 25 miles to a CSA pickup or community garden, that doesn't answer either! Consider the little concerns!! Finally, enjoy eating so much better tasting food!!!