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Food and Faith is a blog of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

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January 5, 2016

New Year, Old Habits

With 2015 finished, many people are looking at January as a fresh start. Resolutions are set and everyone is ready to become a better version of themselves. With the season of resolution upon us, we tend to hear a lot of the same commitments. Getting fit seems to be the most popular amidst my friends and family. When talking about healthy living, it’s impossible not to think about food. This is the time of year when everyone says they will change their diet and get that bikini bod by summer. My January is equally focused on food, but for me I am not starting a new diet; instead I am closing in on the home stretch. As many may know by now, a part of my YAV year is participating in two eating challenges. The first is to eat only local food from September to February 1st. That means that I am 25 days away from finishing my local eating challenge (not that I’m counting or anything).  With a month left, I want to take some time to reflect on where I am and what will come next.

At this point I’ve been eating only local food for 4 months, less the 5 days I was in Virginia visiting my family for Christmas. In that time I have lost weight and I generally feel better. Having been a vegetarian for 9 years now (New Years was my anniversary- go me!) it hasn’t been challenging to live mostly off vegetables; however I have learned exponentially more about seasonality and regionality than I ever thought I would know. I have learned about new vegetables (kohlrabi, romanesco) and how to actually cook food (baking bread, blanching and canning). I now know how to make pasta from scratch and I know that I am not very good at it. I also know now that not much grows in January in Massachusetts- I already knew that one- and consequently I am pretty excited for February 1st. While there were plenty of positive outcomes to this eating challenge, I can confidently say that I will not be eating all local food for the rest of my life.

What comes next for me will not be a new lifestyle committing to all local foods for the rest of forever. I miss the ease of pre-made pasta and ordering pizza instead of making the dough. But I can say that I will be much more intentional with my purchasing. Seasonally and regionally appropriate shopping is not as challenging as it seems. While I will definitely go back to the convenience of prepared goods, I have developed a fondness for local produce. Going to the farm to pick up my CSA seems quaint and out of date, but these months have shown me that it is absolutely realistic. I won’t assume that anyone would actually accept my challenge to eat strictly local but I would encourage everyone to try and make your grocery list just a little more local. It’s a very do-able resolution and it makes America’s food system more sustainable. A topic that my household has had, and keeps circling back to, is expressing our values through our purchases. Not buying Nike’s sweatshop make shoes seems to be easy for people, but thinking about the environmental impact of fresh strawberries in Massachusetts in January doesn’t. As Americans, we want what we want when we want it; and local eating doesn’t always get you that. But being patient in that regard can make a huge difference in our world. So while the year is young and you’re committing to new things, maybe commit to checking out your local farmers market or ordering a CSA.

 

 

 

And stay tuned for next month when my eating challenge turns from local eating to living on SNAP. 


December 18, 2015

Food Justice and Advent

This year, as a way to engage more in food justice First Presbyterian Church in Brookline (the church I am serving at) has decided that instead of having the congregation purchase poinsettias that we would collect money for the Brookline Food Pantry. This is a great way to remember loved ones while also helping those who cannot afford food in our community. We are asking for $10 donations to be made in memory of or in honor of a loved one. This money will also purchase of a paper ornament that will be decorated by the children of the church and displayed at the front of the church. These names of loved ones will also be listed in the church bulletin. 

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December 7, 2015

How Not to Buy GMOs

93% of people in the U.S. want GMO labeling, but the industry has fought tooth and nail to avoid GMO labeling to happen locally or nationally. We will get there, but until then we must do our homework.

Fortunately, avoiding GMOs is very easy. Buy organic or buy from a farmer you know does not use GM seeds. These online resources make finding such food simple.

Local Harvest
www.localharvest.org
Local Harvest connects people looking for good food with the farmers who produce it.

Eat Wild
www.eatwild.org
More than 1,400 pasture-based farms, with more farms being added each week. It is the most comprehensive source for grass-fed meat and dairy products in the United States and Canada. Products include: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Veal, Goat, Elk, Venison, Yak, Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits, Turkeys, Eggs, Milk, Cheeses, Wild-Caught Salmon and more!

Green People
www.greenpeople.org
Find local health food stores, organic food, green products, solar power supplies, green landscaping, organic baby products, doulas, natural pet care, natural beauty products, health and wellness services, green lifestyle products.

Coop Directory Service
www.coopdirectory.org
Source of information about natural food co-ops.

Eat Well Guide
www.eatwellguide.org
Search for fresh, locally grown and sustainably produced food in the United States and Canada. The Guide's thousands of listings include family farms, restaurants, farmers' markets, grocery stores, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, U-pick orchards and more.

Green Polka Dot Box
www.greenpolkadotbox.com
Natural and organic, non-GMO foods at wholesale prices, and delivers them directly to your doorstep. Carries 100's of your favorite brands, even fresh meat and dairy (if within 2 days of Utah via FedEx Ground).

More info available at nongmoproject.org and justlabelit.org

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November 13, 2015

Let's Get Informed

They say ignorance is bliss, and I can’t entirely disagree with that. Before August of this year I didn’t really know anything about food justice, and at times I think that might have been for the better. I have always thought I was doing my fair share when it comes to food ethics- I have been a vegetarian for a while now, mostly for animal rights reasons and partially for environmental reasons. I don’t waste much and I try to avoid foods packaged in plastic. I thought I knew what there was to know about food justice ...

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November 13, 2015

Experiencing a Food Pantry

Food Pantries are a bandaid covering up a much larger issue.

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