Love this idea!! Seattle to build America’s First Food Forest – Seattle’s food forest will be filled with edible plants, and everything from pears to herbs will be free for the taking. Question: why don’t we have this in ALL cities? (Maybe that is a little more than a question … it’s a challenge!
This weekend, when I was walking around my Farmer’s market, and then later around my local Whole Foods, it occurred to me that when I looked at fresh, local, farm produce, it nearly vibrated with light and vibrant health. Early tomatoes glowed, eggplant shimmered, and cabbage was jumping out of its skin … and I immediately understood that they would have a similar effect on my health, the visible (skin, hair, energy) and the invisible parts (disease-fighting, hormonal balance, etc).
In contrast, nothing in a package even winked, they just kind of sat there. Seemed kind of dead and desolate by comparison.
I know what I’m eating these days! Check out my Vibrant Health Recipes page for vibrant veggie cooking inspiration!
Why do we not give cigarettes to kids? Because while they may like the feeling for a moment, we know it will end badly.
Why do we not let them drive a car? Because while they may like the feeling for a moment, we know it will end badly.
Why do we not give them drugs? Because while they may like the feeling for a moment, we know it will end badly.
Why do we not send them off to school full of toaster pastries (candy disguised as breakfast?) Because while they may like the feeling for a moment, we know it will end badly.
Oh, how I wish that last one were true. But somehow our culture has slipped, we have lowered our collective bar, to the point where we don’t even think it’s odd any more to:
- Give kindergarteners an afternoon snack of “juice boxes” (poorly named as most contain no juice), even though sugar-sweetened drinks suppress immunity and induce an adrenaline response at unusually high levels in children. Not what is needed in a class of 5 year olds!
- Serve “fast food” like burgers and fries in school cafeterias, even though consumption of these junk foods has been shown to lower test scores.
- Provide “energy drinks” for student athletes during halftime, even though these chemical-laden stimulants have been linked to serious complications and even death.
And when a parent tries to call foul on this bizarre behavior, he/she tends to be viewed as “extreme,” and to be hear they should “let kids be kids.” OK, pass them a cigar – they may like that, too.
Instead, what if we could find a way to tune out the words of the food marketers (whose job it is to increase consumption of their brands – not to increase your health) … and to instead make independent, informed choices for what to feed our families and ourselves?
What would our meals look like? What would our kids’ snacks look like? And what would be the impact on our collective health?
I believe we can reverse the trend in child obesity rates, which have quadrupled, from 5 to 20% in the last 30 years, along with hospitalizations of children due to obesity complications.
I believe we can reverse the highly related Type 2 Diabetes crisis (healthcare costs of $110 billion in 2011, projected to rise to nearly $157 billion by 2017).
And, call me crazy, but I think this can and must happen quickly, overnight, even. Let’s effect a culture shift that makes healthy choices the norm … the “default” behavior, and makes unhealthy choices uncomfortable.
If you are a parent, you can help be a driver of the shift. Bring beautiful, healthy snacks and meals when called upon by your school. Demonstrate that in-season fruit, water (maybe flavored with some fresh fruit?), and veggie snacks will be gobbled up as quickly as junk food, but with FAR better long-term results. And at home, cook, or at least assemble! If you start with whole ingredients like vegetables, grains, eggs, etc., and keep the focus more on vegetable sources, it is incredibly hard to make unhealthy meals. It’s the so-called “convenience” foods that come pre-packaged, pre-measured, pre-sliced that are most dangerous to your family’s health. Think: making your own chips vs. buying them in bags. You may have them from time to time, but the volume would be drastically reduced.
If you are an educator, make your classroom a “marketing central” for a healthy lifestyle. Kids who look at appetizing pictures of fruits and veggies all day tend to choose and eat more of these foods at meals! And for goodness sake, please ask parents to send only snacks that support health.
If you are a doctor or nurse, PLEASE don’t be afraid to suggest that families limit their foods to those made from fresh, whole ingredients. It’s not “fringy” or “crunchy” … it’s based in science and just makes sense. Years ago, a few words from a pediatrician helped call my attention to a dietary choice I was making (for “convenience”) that compromised my children’s health. He made a huge impact on our lives.
If you are an influencer of others – and this includes all celebrities, athletes, journalists, bloggers, etc. – please wield your influence wisely. Since you have to maintain high energy for your high-impact life, you probably already make awesome food and lifestyle choices. Be public – very, very public – with them.
And whoever you are, for yourself, as you go through your day, ask yourself whether each food choice you’re about to make supports or damages your health. If it is damaging, exercise this opportunity to hold yourself to a higher standard … to tell yourself a new story about your value, and what your body deserves by instead choosing foods that are healthy and life-affirming.
It really doesn’t take many good choices before they suddenly start to be the easy norm for you … and even those around you!
Are you celebrating the Academy Awards with friends or family tonight?
Don’t use it as an excuse to blow your commitment to healthy eating … use it as an opportunity to introduce others to how DELICIOUS real food can be! Wouldn’t you prefer that your friends remember your amazing Kale Quinoa Tabbouleh than remember a post-party pizza-wings-chips hangover?
And, healthy celebrations do NOT have to be boring – quite the contrary! One of the best things about healthy foods is how beautiful they are. Cheese and veggie platters can be virtual works of art … nature’s rainbow! Imagine an hour into your party: contrast cold, congealed pizza with avocado chimichurri bruscetta or layered fiesta salad.
Need ideas? Here are a few to get you started!
The Examiner.com even added some healthy “formal” cookies 🙂
Fitness magazine has published a guide of the “10 Healthiest Party Foods.”
I just came across this food blog (named to one of the Top 100, so am I late to the party, or what?) called Lucid Food, by Louisa Shafia. She portrays food exactly as I like it: gorgeously healthy, seasonal, and a delight for all the senses.
Where to Start
I dove in DEEP, finding fabulous nuggets like her Red Lentil Dal Soup Mix, which make a beautiful and inexpensive homemade gift, and a Cleansing Pureed Veggie Soup that is great for an occasional day off of heavy foods – a gentle fruit and veggie cleanse.
Books and More
Shafia’s first cookbook, Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life, was published in 2009, and she’s in the process of releasing a new cookbook, The New Persian Kitchen, which looks to be AMAZING. If you’re more into video instruction than the printed word, check out her cooking videos: pure inspiration for how easy it can be to make simple, healthy food!
I heard about this new product a few days ago, and I am SO excited! 100% natural vegetable purees that you can quickly and easily slide into favorite foods. Not that it’s THAT hard to cook up carrots, spinach, or sweet potatoes … but this makes them portable, quick and excuse-proof!
Check out their recipe section for some great ideas, and definitely don’t miss the Butternut Squash and Walnut Dip!
Hooray Purée is now sold at Whole Foods, and they’re celebrating by giving away a $500 gift card. Click on the graphic above, or here: $500 Whole Foods Gift Card to enter.
NOTE: I was not paid or in any way compensated for this post. My comments reflect my genuine opinion.
Looking for ways to make 2013 healthier for your family? Granted, the world doesn’t make it easy, with endless messages about convenient, cheap foods full of sugar, rancid fats, and salt … but when you look around you and see where that has gotten the “average American,” you want something better for your family, right?
Check out this great article on Family Food Goals, by Stacy Whitman from the blog School Bites: One Mom’s Crusade for Better Nourished Kids at School (and at Home!). Start with one change, and aim to make them all within the next few months.