I participate in CSA (community supported agriculture), a program that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables to individuals on a biweekly basis. I pay a flat fee and get a box of whatever is in season. This has changed the way I eat. Although I grew up eating a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, once I started with the CSA, I was given foods that I had never seen before: broccoli romanesco, alien-like in color and “mathematically” designed; fennel with it’s licorice smell and long white stalk; varieties of oranges in all shades and sizes.
At first it was a bit trying to figure out what to do with all the vegetables and eat them all in time. While I don’t always eat all the fennel and the mustard greens sometimes go bad, I am eating more vegetables than I did in the past. As a result, the meat has moved from the focus of the meal to a team player who sometimes sits on the bench. I feel as though I don’t need as much meat and the vegetables become the focus.
On my way to pick up my fruits and vegetables today, I was excited at the thought of what I would get this week. I wondered if I would get more baby bok choy or rainbow chard. I hoped for rich, dark kale lacinto or earthy, red beets. And then I began to think about all the people who don’t have the same access to, knowledge about or opportunities to obtain fresh, healthy foods.
As a class, we have been learning about the problem of food insecurity in the United States. Our class has been watching A Place at the Table, a documentary about poverty in the United States. Did you know that 1 in 2 children in the U.S. will be on food assistance at one point or another in their childhood? Some places in the United States are considered food deserts in that the people do not have easy access to fresh produce. I feel blessed to live in my neighborhood where the grocery stores are stocked all year long with produce. Not everyone is that lucky.
I began to think about the problem and about the impact that it has on students who aren’t able to eat enough and do not have healthy choices. What if we could introduce students to healthy foods by trying them at school? What if we could give cooking classes to parents and families? What if we gave more money to the Healthy Families Act so that more than $1.00 (after taking out money for gas and labor) was given to creating school lunches?
The real shame is that the power lies in the hands of big agro business and their huge percentage of dollars spent on lobbying. Health is a human right, or at least it should be. Right now health in America is seen as a burden to large companies who might lose some of their profits. Let’s take back the power and make a health a priority for future generations.