The summer has ended, and my blog project is coming to an end.
Since May I have learned a great deal about access to nutritious food. I feel that this project barely scratched the surface on the issues it discussed, and I am now looking forward to exploring new ideas and projects on the same theme.
I am working, for example, with the manager of my local Farmers' Market on a CSA/Market Basket type program to increase access to Farmers' Market produce for everyone in my neighborhood. I will continue to blog about these follow-up projects intermittently on this page, so stay tuned for monthly updates if you wish!
Through the On Food Stamps blog I have had a good fortune to connect with tons of other people who are doing great projects about food access, too. I have linked many of them on the right side of this blog. One of my favorites is Mother Connie's Food Stamp Cooking Club.
Mother Connie is a retired Senior Citizen living on a limited Social Security income. She does not qualify for federal food programs such as SNAP/Food Stamps, WIC or the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program. Gas to drive to her "local" food pantry, Angel Food Ministries, is prohibitively expensive. As you can imagine, Mother Connie lives on a pretty tight food budget. But, she also loves to cook so she didn't let her limited budget get her down. As she became increasingly skilled at eating well on the cheap, Mother Connie thought about others in her community that might be in a similar situation.
"I was concerned," Mother Connie wrote to me "about those people who believed that they could maintain a life with Ramen noodles." So, Mother Connie developed a website devoted to educating people about how to prepare healthy meals with little income. Her project grew to incorporate a cooking class which has really brought people in her community together around healthy food in a great learning environment - Mother Connie's small and charming kitchen!
I really admire Mother Connie's work. It is a testament to the fact that all of us can do something in our communities - be it at the family dinner table, the break room at work, or our entire city - to help the movement towards healthy, sustainable eating gain momentum.
September is Hunger Action Month, and I am asking everyone who has been following my blog project to accept my passing of the torch. As I bring my project to a close, I am asking each and every one of you to accept my challenge: Make a commitment to do something in your sphere of influence to keep the momentum going.
You don't have to be Michael Pollan, you don't have to produce a film like Food Inc. You don't have to be Michelle Obama and plant a vegetable garden. You don't even have to do a food stamp challenge. There are plenty of ways to influence the people around you in a positive way when it comes to food, even if your budget is tight.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Shop at your local Farmers' Market.
- Just ask: When you do go to the chain grocery store, ask the employees about the produce you see there. Where was it grown? What types of sprays or pesticides were used? Most likely they will have no idea, even if you ask for the store manager. The important part is that you are expressing the fact that you, as a consumer, care about these questions. CREATE THE DEMAND for healthier, locally grown products in your chain grocery market. We'll never get the things we want if we don't ask for them.
- Improve your diet: Eat more vegetables, and keep your portions small. Anything you do to eat better will be noticed by the people around you and it will create the right kind of social pressure, as we've discussed throughout this blog.
- Eat healthy dinners with your friends or family. Make it an event. Enjoy preparing food together, and invest some time and money into what you are putting into your body.
- Tweet, post, or link anything that gets you thinking about food in a positive way. In this age of social media, each and every one of us is a self publisher. You may not have a website or blog of your own, but do you have a Facebook news feed or a Twitter account? Use it to get a conversation going about sustainable food!
In the meantime I am signing off for awhile. Thank you for following my blog. I couldn't have done this project without your comments and support.