Recently I have become more passionate about striving to eat healthy, organic, and when possible, local, foods. Eating to help my health and the health of the planet can be a challenge, but I have found an increasing amount of resources in my community. A recent post on the Presbyterian Hunger Program's Food and Faith blog focused on some of these resources in Louisville and beyond.
We are lucky at PC(USA) to have a Community Supported Agriculture(CSA) that drops off at our office building. Grasshoppers CSA provides local produce, eggs, dairy products, and meat to PC(USA) employees once a week. Our winter shares start next week, and I can't wait to get a different kind of goat cheese each week. What a luxury.
I have also been noticing more attention being given to the issues surrounding factory farming as well. Today in Louisville's Courier-Journal two items caught my eye: an editorial urging folks to forgo factory farmed turkeys for Thanksgiving. Some of these turkeys are fattened so quickly that their legs cannot support the weight of their bodies. There was also an interviewwith Jonathan Safran Foer about his new book, Eating Animals. In it he examines our factory farms and makes a case for a new food system.
I am very thankful to have learned more about our food system in the US, and what I can do to try to eat in a way that is healthy for my body and our earth. More so, I am thankful to live in an area where I have access to healthy food, and that I have the means to afford this food. Many low income areas have become "food deserts," where people do not have access to healthy foods.
A recent study of West Louisville by the Community Farm Alliance found that West Louisville is home to 80,000 people, 38% living below the poverty level. In this area one grocery store serves 19,500 people, whereas outside of West Louisville other areas of the city have one grocery store per 6,100 people. The study found that of the 24 convenience stores in West louisville only 25% sold all five food groups, and usually only sold potatoes and onions if they sold vegetables at all. The two leading causes of death in West Louisville are heart disease and cancer. Read more about the study at the Community Farm Alliance website.
As we sit down to our Thanksgiving tables, may we give thanks for our food, the farmers who grew it, our ability to work for change to our food system, and may we remember those who do not have access to food, healthy or otherwise.
What can we do about these issues? Buy local food. When you cannot buy local, try organic and fair trade products. Start a community garden at your church and make the produce available in a food desert. Host a CSA drop off spot at your church. Avoid buying from factory farms by supporting local farmers. Share your knowledge with others.