The dawn of a New Year is the time that many of us choose to make good resolutions. Starting with our health. Now, how about if, on top (or instead) of goals set in numbers of daily calories consumed, weekly workout sessions and pounds lost, we were to commit to mindfulness? Mindfulness about the food we consume.
To support you along the way, I have put these guidelines together. I hope you find them helpful. And as an extra-incentive, bear in mind that improved health (ours and that of the planet) remains wishful thinking until we transform our mindset and lifestyle. Enjoy the process!
- to buy food that was grown without pesticides and other agrichemicals, when available… and to ask about/for it if need be!
=> no agrichemicals is good news for my personal health, for the health of the people who grow my food, and for the protection of the environment. “Organic” labels offer one type of guarantee; another comes from the trust you develop with producers whom you choose to buy from directly.
- to never eat/buy meat unless it is clearly labeled “with no antibiotics”, “no growth- hormones”… and to ask about/for it if need be!
=> meat laced with antibiotics and growth-hormones is the product of an industry that treats animals inhumanely, and feeds them a diet that sickens them. Its price is cheapest but its damaging impacts on public health and on the environment cost dearly to taxpayers. Better to consume less, less often, and to buy the highest quality when you do.
- to never eat/buy fish unless it is deemed sustainable according to the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program (California), the Marine Conservation Society’s FISHONLINE website (UK), or the Australian Marine Conversation Society’s Sustainable Seafood Guide… and to ask about/for it if need be!
=> beware of imported seafood (84 percent of U.S. consumption), as its supply chain can be difficult to track and evaluate. Imported farmed seafood is especially iffy on the health and environmental fronts. More than half comes from Asia, including 23 percent from China. A Government Accountability Office report released in April 2011 found serious gaps in the government’s oversight of these products, asserting that “seafood containing residues of drugs not approved for use in the United States may be entering U.S. commerce.”
- to cook at least 2 new recipes every month in order to incorporate more and more fresh products in my diet, and to reduce my consumption of processed food.
=> yes, a green salad with soft-boiled eggs or rice with steamed carrots and broccoli count!
- to buy as much of my food as possible from local producers, season permitting, in order to support the local economy.
=> I give myself bonus points for exploring/creating opportunities to buy my food directly from producers I trust, as the shortest value chain guarantees better products at a better price for me and a better income for them.
- to be mindful of the socio-economic impact of the production of the food that I buy and consume… and to ask about it if need be!
=> low prices typically implies cheaply produced food, including cheap labor; farm workers in America do not enjoy the same rights as everyone else in the workforce, hence the need for consumers to pay attention to the kind of labor conditions they support. When buying imported products, looking for fair-trade labels can help identify items that support the people whose labor feeds me.
- to get involved, either through learning, teaching or collaborating on a project that inspires me and that I deem relevant to our food security.
=> some ideas in no particular order: gardening, farming, cooking, canning, curing, pickling, baking, cheese making, creating a food coop, educating kids and folks on food issues (between health, local economic development and everything else in between, take your pick!), advocacy.