Opinion

Resolutions picked for food habits

I took a vocational aptitude test about 30 years ago and the top suggestion was minister of religion. So I try very hard not to preach.

This week I received a bulletin from Food Tank, a prestigious Chicago-based think tank with an impressive international advisory board. They list fourteen resolutions for 2014 and here they are with my comments.

Meet your local farmer. That’s easier now that we have such great farmers’ markets.

Eat seasonal produce. Almost impossible to do this 100 per cent, but every time we succeed we reduce shipping impacts and keep more money in our community.

End food waste. The statistics are shocking: more than 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted each year.  Try planning meals ahead; using ‘ugly’ fruits and vegetables; getting traditional recipes; requesting smaller portions, composting.

Promote a healthy lifestyle. Engage in physical activity, eat a healthy diet and lobby for better regulations in marketing junk food to children.

I’m a total failure at physical activity, but I must be doing OK with the eating, since I only ever need a doctor for a rare, minor problem.

Support changes in agricultural practices. At least one-third of global food produced is used for factory-fed livestock. And land grabs are displacing small farmers. Here on Vancouver Island, support the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Eat indigenous crops. About 75 per cent of the Earth’s plant genetic resources are now extinct, and another third of what remains is predicted to disappear by the year 2050.

I interpret this resolution as including crops that grow successfully in our region as well as protecting food plants that have been around more than 200 years.

Buy (grow) organic. At least one pesticide was found in 67 per cent of produce samples in the U.S. It’s probably about the same in Canada.

Go meatless once a week. To produce 450 grams (one pound) of beef can require 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water. We can reduce our “hoofprints” by eating less meat.

Hard for us omnivores, but we can manage smaller portions, too.

Cook. Read Michael Pollan’s book Cooked for many new insights.

He writes delightfully and there are even recipes for four fundamental foods.

Do dinner parties. Talk about food, enjoy a meal, and if you are traveling in 2014 and craving a homemade meal try meal sharing (mealsharing.com).

Consider the true cost of your food. There are many direct and indirect costs for excessive agricultural use of antibiotics and artificial fertilizers, for example.

Encourage grassroots inventiveness. Farmers, scientists, researchers, women, youth, NGOs, and others are finding on-the-ground solutions for many interconnected global agriculture problems. Their work needs resources, research, and investment to replace failing global food systems.

Support family farmers. The U.N. Food And Agriculture Organization has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, to honour the world’s more than 400 million family farms and ensure their survival.

Share knowledge across generations. We don’t need to re-invent everything.

Older people can share their knowledge and participate in solutions to world food problems.

Marjorie Stewart is board chairwoman of the Nanaimo Foodshare Society. She can be reached at marjorieandalstewart@shaw.ca.

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