Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sustain your body and the planet with local food...

Sustainable Eating - Why Eat Well?

Photo (Lexi Van de Walle): what 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables look like

Sustainability has been a hot topic for some time now. Books on sustainable agriculture have became best sellers, Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming. We've heard about sustainable communities and buildings, and sustainable oceans and fisheries.

Conscious consuming and sensible use of scarce resources is the right thing to do. Sustainability, climate change, "greening" is top of mind not only in my house, but New York City's Mayor Bloomberg's office, the Obama Administration and the United Nations (the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York are May 4th to May 15th -- you'll be hearing more about these meetings from me as I'm one of the leaders on the New York City UN-CSD Host Committee).

As a nutrition counselor, I am focused not only on sustainable food systems (i.e, locavorism) but also sustainable diets - diets that keep our bodies healthy. "Sustainable Eating" or having a "Sustainable Table" is catching on not only in restaurants, home kitchens, but also in city, state and national governments as a way to not only reduce carbon and greenhouse gases and support small rural farmers but to combat the epidemic rise in the rate of obesity by improving access to healthy food in ALL neighborhoods regardless of income.

What eating sustainably means is simply that as we become more aware of the role of whole and quality foods in good health and the dangers of packaged and processed foods (what Michael Pollan calls "food-like substances") the more we'll realize that the Standard American Diet (a.k.a. the S.A.D diet) is indeed NOT sustainable. It is becoming common knowledge that high fat and processed foods that contain hydrogenated fats, excessive amounts of sodium, high fructose corn syrup, hormones and lots of additives, preservatives and artificial colorings ARE making us sick. Really sick!

You don't have to be a doctor or an expert on nutrition to know that the S.A.D diet doesn't work. As a society we cannot continue to eat massive amounts of hormone-laden meat and dairy from cattle raised in feedlots on factory farms, products made from refined flour (which has had all its nutrients and fiber removed) and high fructose corn syrup. Many Americans are eating mostly packaged and fast foods and NOT eating the recommended 5-9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. The incidence of diabetes and obesity in the US are of epidemic proportions. Simply stated, we will bankrupt our healthcare system, a valuable and scarce resource, from the high costs related to diabetes, heart disease and cancer -- all lifestyle/diet related illnesses and many of which ARE preventable.

Our children are sick with a ADHD, food allergies, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and depression. Many of these kids could feel better, think better and make fewer visits to the doctor if they ate less junk and chemicalized processed foods and more fruits, veggies and nutritious whole grains, unprocessed legumes and other plant foods -- with organic meat and dairy as a side dish.

There are a lot of resources for you to learn more about eating good and REAL FOOD and sustainable eating (low fat, low cholesterol, low salt, high fiber and HIGH FLAVOR). And, for a fun video from NBC Evening News on the New York City's Department of School Food featuring Chef Jorge Collazo click
here. Visit these sites for more info:
Slow Food USA
Just Food
Sustainable Table - the Meatrix video about factory farming is quite good
* Michael Pollan's website (if you're up for a technical but fascinating read check out Michael Pollan's much acclaimed book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.)

Eat Green! Eat Local,
Healthfully yours,
Lexi, the Lighthearted Locavore

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