Two Excellent Articles On Improving American Food (and my relationship to childhood obesity)

Some seriously excellent articles I’ve just encountered:

1. Avoiding Factory Farms: An Eater’s Guide, by Nicolette Hahn Niman

2. Good Food Nation, by Peter Dizikes of the MIT News Office

Seriously, go read them. Or if you just want me to summarize, click after the jump for brief overviews, some additional thoughts, and an amusing childhood connection…

Ok. First off, Avoiding Factory Farms: An Eater’s Guide, by Nicolette Hahn Niman

An excellent, comprehensive, and informative guide towards how to eat well for yourself, your community, and the rest of the planet. Niman gives broad general advice (be prepared to pay more, ask questions, consider it an adventure!), helpful tips on where to look (supermarkets suck, farmers markets are awesome, look for sustainable restaurants) , information on animal-based products (buy domestic and pastured, grass-fed and organic are good but flawed, free-range means very little) and even more details by animal and by dairy product.

Go read, now.  Niman is a livestock rancher (wife of Bill Niman of Niman Ranch Meat), a lawyer, and author of a book called Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms. Yeah, she pretty much kicks ass. The only thing I’d add to the article is the importance of cooking yourself! It’s cheaper, it’s fun, it’s engaging and interesting and creative and educational.  Sure, it can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it in so many ways.

2. Good Food Nation, by Peter Dizikes of the MIT News Office

A very exciting article on two studies  by MIT researchers: one concluding that America’s childhood obesity epidemic is a result of our national food system subsidizing and surrounding children with unhealthy processed food, and another in conjunction with Columbia researchers proposing that regional food systems could be a solution to the health problem.

The team suggests that regional food production and distribution efforts such as urban garden plots and ‘lawn to farm’ conversions would help increase access to good, healthy, affordable, non-processed food. Another amazing suggestion: ‘entrepreneurs or government should invest in a new concept: “food terminals,” retail developments combining grocery stores with greenhouses, farmers’ markets, restaurants, and even education centers as magnets for city residents who otherwise lack access to fresh produce.’  Plus, fresh food buses! Love that idea. Goal for the future: open a food terminal. Check.

The researchers also tied in ssues of costs, lifestyle, transportation and  health care and plan to address some of these other economic factors in a future study. For now, they acknowledge that it’s a huge task trying to overhaul America’s food system, but a critical issue that needs to be addressed and these ideas are a step in the right direction. I heartily agree.

A very entertaining footnote: I’m pretty sure I was in this exact MIT obesity study as a kid.  First off, I would like to make clear that I was not obese as a child. Seriously. I may like butter-fried pasta, but let’s not get out of hand (although that would be kind of hilarious but only in retrospect as a now-completely-the-opposite-of-obese person). My mom works at MIT and knew one of the researchers and I used to go in once a year to get weighed and measured, run on a treadmill, talk about what foods I ate, stay in the hospital overnight, and most terrifyingly, lie down for a long period of time with a weird plastic box over my head and electrodes all over my body. Hmm. Wonder what that was all about. But I remember it being fun to pick out what hospital food I wanted and to write down a food diary with one of the researchers while playing with weird plastic fruit replicas.  Perhaps that was the beginning of my food obsession.  It all comes full circle…

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3 thoughts on “Two Excellent Articles On Improving American Food (and my relationship to childhood obesity)

  1. as always, thanks ! Your links are ALWAYS excellent and a great resource

  2. oops, that comment above was me!

  3. Irene says:

    HAH! That’s what we get for going to lab-rat preschool.

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