Category Archives: General

Defining Local

Strawberries from 3 Springs Fruit Farm

A recent report from the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture explores the local food movement through a comprehensive literature review.  This 87-page report (includes 16 pages of references) titled, “Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues,” contains numerous analyses with tables and charts illustrating current opportunities and barriers to the local food system, and how consumers, institutions, retailers and the government play a part.  Read the Report Summary here if you’re time-crunched.  The full report is expansive, so I’ll touch upon a few statistics and issues that resonated with me. Continue reading

Back to My Roots: Responsible Eating – Week of 3.6.10

This morning, as I eat my cage free eggs and walnut-raisin cinnamon bread, I’m elated that we are well into March; the sun shines as a harbinger of warm Spring days to come.  It also dawned on me that March means National Nutrition Month (NNM), an annual reminder from the American Dietetic Association that nutrition is a key component to living life to its fullest.  To think that we need a reminder.  Hm.

Image from the American Dietetic Association

When I worked as a clinical dietitian in various hospitals early in my career, National Nutrition Month inspired educational campaigns in the cafeteria and in the community on the theme du jour.  I loved to create educational pieces and presentations, watching eyes light up with understanding and motivation.  This year’s theme, “Nutrition From the Ground Up,” aligns perfectly to this blog; a simple phrase affirming that good nutrition should be simple and varied, much like the food that is grown from the soil of American farms, which, unfortunately, are at risk, due in part to an industrial revolution fueled with political controversy.

I recently blogged about the benefits of ‘tweeting.’ A large reason I hopped on the Twitter bandwagon is to reconnect to a network of health promoters and dietitians that I have lost touched with after switching career paths.  For me, “Nutrition From the Ground Up” is yet another opportunity to rediscover and promote sound nutrition principles and confirm my commitment to a more sustainable food system through my own behaviors.  Key messages from this year’s campaign that are often reflected on this blog include:

  • Look for locally grown produce that’s in season.
  • Introduce new foods.
  • Start with the basics – eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Continue reading

A Tourist in my Own State: City Girl to Farm

Rather than writing about our weekend in Berks County, Pennsylvania, a mere hour and a half from Philadelphia, I thought I would rely on a pictorial to tell the story.  I experimented a ton with my new camera and realized I have A LOT to learn about photography.  You will notice that I haven’t yet developed the photographer’s gregarious personality – straying far from subjects and opting for the outdoor landscape instead.    I assume that quality will come with time.  Enjoy!

I used the EatWellGuide and Buy Fresh Buy Local web site to plan our traipse.  We ventured to two Farmer’s Markets – Fairgrounds in Reading and Renningers in Kutztown – to pick up the bulk of our provisions for our weekend meals.  The purveyors included:

  • J&T Seafood – crab cakes, lobster bisque
  • Reading Spice Company – Jim Beam hot sauce
  • Paul L Keagy & Son – apples, onions, asparagus, red potatoes
  • Jim Neidermeyer – chicken wings
  • Dietrichs – sirloin steak (for J)
  • Way-Har Farms – ice cream!

Sustainable Table’s “Questions to Ask When Shopping” is an excellent resources for consumers looking to be a bit more thoughtful in their food purchases.  It helped us ask the right questions to ensure we understood where our food came from and how it was produced.

Philly Food Buzz: Taxes and Labels

Yes, I’m a busy posting bee this weekend (buzz buzz).  Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused at work when there’s food on the mind –- more than the chewing variety — so I’ll start a post, and then I’m not able to finish it until the weekend affords me the time.  This past week two local headlines caught my eye:

Possible tax on soda and sugary beverages in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is in debt.  With Mayor Nutter delivering his budget proposal on March 4, it is rumored that a possible tax on sugared drinks could be included.  With expected layoffs and service cuts, all options are being pursued to help generate revenue and dig the city out of the red.  The New England Journal of Medicine published a convincing paper on the concept of taxing sugared drinks.  Here are a summary of the findings:

  • Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has been shown to increase one’s risk of chronic diseases.
  • The rising burden of disease related to poor diet is escalating health care costs.
  • Research suggests that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would have strong positive effects on reducing consumption. 
  • The tax has the potential to generate substantial revenue to prevent obesity, address health care costs related to chronic diseases, and fund other health-related programs.

Philadelphia enforces menu labeling law.

Philadelphia began enforcing its new menu labeling law, which requires restaurants with more than 15 locations nationwide to post calorie counts of foods on the menu and at drive-thrus.  This topic is nicely covered by one of my new go-to Philly blogs, Food-Fitness-FreshAir, that I’ll keep this post short and sweet.  While I’m not convinced that this is the best method to curb unhealthy eating habits, it supports an environment to help individuals make better choices.  Preparing foods at home really is optimal to help control nutrient content – and people need to get moving!   Stay tuned to see how/if Philadelphians are impacted…

Both headlines indicate a re-engineering of our current environment through policy to promote healthier lifestyles.  While it’s somewhat bothersome that it takes a city $100 million in debt to act sensibly on a public health crisis, I appreciate any story that generates more thought and visibility to how we can help solve this problem; particularly in a city that carries the distinguished ranking as one of the fattest cities in America. It’s disheartening that we’ve gotten to a point where we need to rely on government policy to fix something as natural as the food we eat; yet policy surely does shape our environment, and there’s convincing argument that government has helped foster the health concerns we are dealing with today (see Pollan post).