What Feeds Us?
You may have noticed that my vegetable garden is one of my favorite photo subjects. Not only is it beautiful, but it feeds me--literally! And today I want to talk to you about food.
Food is basic to not only our survival, but to our well-being.
At a cellular level, it nourishes us. At a soul level, it creates satisfaction, pleasure, appreciation, community.
We need enough food, and we also need the right kind of food. Some food is filled with life-sustaining vitamins, minerals and enzymes, and some "food"--highly processed and "junk" food--is filled with empty calories or even harmful sugars and chemicals.
When people are disconnected from nutritious food—either by poor diet choices or by lack of access—their health and well-being suffer. But when they eat real, unprocessed, whole food—the kind that can be grown in a garden or on a local farm—their minds and bodies can thrive.
Can you imagine living in a country where everyone was nourished by whole, healthful, locally grown food? Food that empowered them to be healthier and live a more productive life? What a beautiful and hopeful thought. But that is not the case today.
Did you know that 11.1% of U.S. households are food insecure—meaning they do not have access at all times to enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle—according to the USDA? (That number is from 2018). What contributes to food insecurity? Low income, unemployment, lack of access to grocery stores and lack of transportation. During this time when many people are unemployed, businesses are not operating and schools are not in session, food insecurity is more prevalent than ever. In addition, our industrialized food system has gotten away from nutritious whole foods in favor of processed and convenience foods. Generations of Americans don't know how to incorporate whole, natural foods into their diets.
The great news is that gardening, urban farming, and education can address many of these issues! The coronavirus pandemic sparked a renewed interest in gardening as people across the country were unwilling or unable to go to the grocery store, and had more time on their hands to grow their own food. Many Americans, young and old, discovered the joys of gardening and tasted their first home-grown tomatoes this summer!
Growing food--especially organic food--empowers us. It gives us the security of knowing that whatever happens, we will have something to eat. It gives us the peace of mind of knowing what's in our food (or what's not in it), and who picked it. It gives us some control over the health of our bodies when many things in our modern world feel out of our control. It can make fresh produce more affordable as well.
A population in control of its own food supply is very powerful. People that eat well have the building blocks of energy and nutrition they need to function in life. As a rising tide lifts all boats, a more nutritious food supply lifts the health of the people.
I've been supporting food security and food justice for awhile through my fundraiser for the GardenWorks Project. I recently introduced another fundraiser for Urban Growers Collective, a local urban farming organization that not only is growing food in urban areas but doing so much more to ensure people in the Chicago area have access to fresh produce. All the proceeds from my Beautiful Surprise Box are going to this amazing organization!
Feeding ourselves healthful food is a fundamental act of self-respect. Feeding others, or providing them a means to feed themselves, says you care enough about them to nourish them too.
Since September is Hunger Action Month, I really hope you will help provide some nourishment to your fellow humans. Here are some ideas:
-Get yourself something fun and beautiful! My goal is to sell 20 Beautiful Surprise Boxes during the month of September. All proceeds, as mentioned, benefit Urban Growers Collective.
-You can also tune into the GardenWorks Project's Harvest Against Hunger broadcasts on Instagram or attend their virtual event on October 4. For the cost of your donation you will receive a box of locally harvested produce and much more.
-Northern Illinois Food Bank is another organization I love to support.
-Your local food pantry is a great place to donate as well. Let me know if I can help!
Eat well, live well and love well this month. Thank you for your support!