“Changing The Way We Eat”

On Sunday November 23, 2008 Maplewood Memorial Library hosted an event titled “Slow Food: Healthy and Responsible Eating.”  According to the flier, “The Slow Food movement emphasizes fresh, local food grown or raised in an ecologically responsible way.”

Wholefoods in Union

I couldn’t attend the event; I had a prior commitment.  But certainly my thoughts were on what the featured speaker, Gary Tonucci, had to say.  I confess I’ve since visited the Slow Food movement web site hoping to find answers.  I did visit the national site, and New Jersey chapter…  Tonight however, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS interviewed Michael Pollan on “Changing the Way We Eat,” the author of the ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.’  Immediately familiar with the book (having been lent a copy by a very progressive resident & Professor of Anthropology) I realized immediately what I was hearing was, in large part, about the Slow Food movement.  Certainly a lot of topics were covered during his interview.  For that interview visit Bill Moyers Journal

His message regarding the need for change in the American diet is as much for government as it is for individuals.  In October 2008 Pollan published an open letter to the presidential candidates titled “An Open Letter to the Farmer in Chief” stating “that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue…”  What I’d like to touch on is the connection he makes to key ideas during his interview, ideas that I think are really important for our communities and our children.  Michael Pollan’s message to the public is that Americans need to change the way we eat.  Families across America purchase fast food and processed food, which has led to a rise in diabetes and obesity among Americans – hardly refutable.  Shop strategically he suggests, and be prepared to cook.  Cooking can make the difference, even with regard to wealth and poverty he argues. Wealthy Americans, he states, who eat out regularly can face more health risks than poor Americans who cook healthily.

His message resonates with me.  Pollan mentioned the importance of fresh produce in daily diets, and how community farmer’s markets and community gardens can, have, and should continue to meet this need. While it is true that supermarkets cornered the market on produce distribution, alternatives do exist he points out, and they should be explored.

Farmers Markets
Maplewood Township has had a farmers market for years.  Visit farmers market online for this information. [Maplewood Farmers Market, Springfield Ave. at Indiana St. Municipal Street parking lot July – October, Monday, 2:00 P.M.- 7:00 P.M.] South Orange also has one, quite picturesque in fact.  I’ve visited it also, and it’s found by their local pond.  [South Orange Village Farmers Market, Meadowland Park/Duck Pond, At Ridgewood Rd. N. & Mead St. June – October, Wednesday, 2:30 P.M.-7:00PM.]

Gardens: Private & Community (Schools & Urban Agriculture)

Private.  A challenge proposed by the author was for the President Elect to section of a piece of White House lawn and create a family garden.  Eleanor Roosevelt famously championed the family garden, creating one while in the White House.  Pollan quoted a high figure of Americans who followed her lead and fed their families this way.

* I would just ask President-Elect Obama and his wife Michelle to let Malia and Sasha choose between taking care of their [manly] dog or taking care of their family garden.  I want them to have positive experiences while at the White House and not so much hard labor...

Seth Boyden’s edible garden

Schools. Across the country schools have incorporated the garden into the curriculum.  Seth Bodyen Elementary School has a very attractive garden.  …I’m really taken with this lovely sign...

Additional Links

  1. Detroit:             Detroit Agriculture Org
  2. Los Angeles      Common Ground
  3. Philadelphia:     Neighborhood Gardens Association & PHS – Green City Strategy
  4. New York:         Clinton Community Garden & Capital District Community Gardens
  5. Nationwide:      Urban Community Gardens
  6. Cornell University:  Urban Agriculture

© 2010 W. S. Hughes l Updated 11.19.2010

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Children says:

    Do we eat too much because of pure habit Large portions and the wrong foods can become a habit. Children

  2. Headline: White House to break ground on ‘kitchen garden’

    Date: 3.20.09

    Source: AP
    Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/white_house_garden

    Excerpt: “WASHINGTON – The White House is getting a new garden.”

    “First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to break ground Friday on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen.”

    “She will be joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project, including planting the fruits, vegetables and herbs in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year.”

    “Mrs. Obama spent time earlier this week at an exhibit on rooftop gardening.”

    “We’re going to get a big one in our back yard, the South Lawn,” she promised the volunteers.”

    “Such a White House garden has been a dream of noted California chef Alice Waters, considered a leader in the movement to encourage consumption of locally grown, organic food. She has been appealing for change through the taste buds since the 1960s.”

    “She organized a series of fundraising dinners in Washington before President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January that served foods purchased from local producers at an area farmer’s market to show how it can be done.”

    “Reached Thursday at her Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Chez Panisse, Waters said she was thrilled by the news.”

    Author: Darlene Superville, (additional contributors) Nancy Benac and Mary Clare Jalonick

  3. Tough question. Maybe we do because of the availability of diverse and large quantities of food? – w

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