There are so many things I could write about that are food related for the Blog Action Day theme of climate change. I’m sure a lot of food bloggers are writing about eating less meat, eating local and organics, and that’s all great. But I’m going to focus on something a lot of people probably wouldn’t think twice about when it comes to their food: packaging.
When I lived in Australia, I began buying more fresh food than ever in my life because of the abundance of fresh food/farmers markets and fruit and veg shops. Most butcher shops there didn’t use styrofoam packing trays for their meat, although the grocery stores did. What I noticed quite quickly was how little trash my husband and I were creating because we ate so much fresh food.
There were very few cans, boxes and bottles in our garbage. What few I did use, made it into the recycle bin because South Australia had a wonderful curbside recycling program. We’d get to the end of another week and have only a puny bag of garbage to go in our great big wheelie bin. It made me feel virtuous.
So the moral of this story is that fresh food is not only good for you, it’s good for the environment, too, because it cuts down on the packaging filling our landfills that will hang out there for who knows how long.
The title of this post was one half of a Herbert Hoover campaign slogan in 1928 and we all know how well his dreams of prosperity turned out. Perhaps part of the problem with that slogan is that Americans didn’t actually have a pot to cook the chicken in.
Today is Blog Action Day and I’ve taken up the challenge to address the issue of poverty as it relates to food.
Obesity is a huge problem in America and Australia, and there’s a lot of research that points to a possible link between poverty and obesity. Part of the reason for this is that people who live in poverty often live in what are known as “food deserts” and don’t have easy access to good food or just can’t afford fresh, healthy food.
Los Angeles is trying to combat the “food desert” problem in a South L.A. community by putting a moratorium on new fast food restaurants and encouraging businesses that sell healthier food. There are other ways people are trying to get better food into the bellies of those who need it most: community gardens are springing up in lower-income neighborhoods, farmer’s markets are linked to the WIC program, and programs like Second Harvest. These are all great– but does just providing healthy food go far enough to solve the problem? I don’t think it does.
The poverty that leads to obesity goes beyond the inability to afford decent food. It’s also a poverty of the kitchen tools needed to cook healthy food and a poverty of kitchen skills. Sure, you can give everyone a chicken, but if they don’t have a pot to put it in or don’t know how to cook it, how are they going to eat?
Jamie Oliver finally figured this out when he filmed Jamie’s Ministry of Food. He spent time in a lower income community where people eat like crap and found out they eat that way because they don’t know how to cook. And how would they? If they grew up eating convenience foods and fast food, where would they learn?
While food banks and other food programs do help get healthy food to people to some degree (and I’m aware of some of the inadequecies of the food stamp program), we need to go further if we want to help battle the obesity born of poverty.
This is why I want to start a foundation to work in conjunction with food banks and other food programs that will provide basic kitchen equipment and cooking classes to people on low incomes. This idea has been brewing in the back of my mind for at least a year now, but I think Blog Action Day has made me think more seriously about actually doing something about it. Watch this space….