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Fresh the Movie and Sustainable Foods

Sadly, not all cows grow as happily in such a beautiful place. Happy human=healthy human. Don't you think the same applies for all animals? Don't you want your meats to be the same? (Picture source: flikr. By: tipiro)

Last night, I watched the movie FRESH for an educational meeting for local dietitians–and received continuing education credits for having a good time:)

The movie started with this statement:

Americans are scared of one thing: inconvenience

Whether you agree or not, this is a movie to watch.

The movie inspires people to choose sustainable options. Our current food system, according to the experts interviewed, is not. The biggest problem they see is monoculutres, which means growing one type of species by itself.

Monocultures– completely unnatural–lower plants’ ability to fight disease. The soil needs different crops at different seasons to replenish the good bacteria and organisms that fight bad and disease-causing bugs and organisms. When corn or soybeans are farmed on the same soil, year after year, the soil is drained. Farmers have one the solution: pesticides.

When livestock (cattle, pigs, chicken, turkeys, bison, etc) left the farm, and the farm started growing one type of plant, the natural cycle is broken. Here’s how it should go: animals on farm create manure, manure is used to fertilize plants, plants are healthy and nutrient-rich, animals eat plants and produce healthy and nutrient-rich meats and poultry. And so on.

When the cycle is broken, there’s no place for animal manure to go, creating a pollution problem. And plants need some kind of fertilizer, thus chemical fertilizers become necessary.

Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms, said–don’t have the exact quote:

We’re not farming animals, we’re farming grass. If you take care of the grass, it will take care of the animals

I like is view.

Many of the food contamination problems we are facing these days are related to how we farm our plants and animals. Remember the e-Coli problem from cattle manure contaminating spinach?

Eating sustainable sounds great and I think people want to do it, but I see 2 challenges:

  1. Sustainable foods tend to be more expensive
  2. Sustainable foods are not available everywhere

Every person or family has their own financial agenda, but I wholeheartedly believe that we can bump food up on our priority list. We used to spend a big proportion of our income on food then. Now we don’t. Michael Pollan said about sustainability:

It costs more, but it’s worth it…you get what you pay for

I agree.

For the second problem, here are some links to help you locate sustainable foods in your area.

  • Local Harvest: find farms, CSAs, local groceries, co-ops, restaurants, …
  • Eat Well Guide: click on Featured Guide, type your state/city, and you will get a guide of activities, places, restaurants, bakeries… (ideas for family fun!)
  • Read more about FRESH. Check the Resources and Call to Action sections
  • For Washington DC, Northern Virginia folks: check Washington DC Green Grocer. Trust me, you wont get boxes of kale! This week’s mixed box has potatoes, asparagus, celery, egg plants, cucumbers, lettuce, apples, mandarins, pears, mangoes, and banana
  • Buy Fresh Buy Local in Virginia. Just Google your state and find out what’s going there
  • Polyface Farms deliver to several buying clubs in Northern Virginia and Maryland. Find out if there’s one near you.
  • Green Zabiha sells organic halal foods. I talked to the owner before and he is phenomenal. They have very high standards for the meat they sell, and they deliver
  • Visit Connect Nutrition for more information, publications, public policy, movies, books, and blogs about sustainability. I met the owner last night as she was one of the panelists after the movie, and there are many resources on her website
  • Will Allen, who showed in the movie his sustainable farm on 3 acres in Milwaukee, is giving a workshop in Lynchburg, VA on March 5 and 6. Anyone local up for it?

No need to flip your kitchen upside down. Find one thing you can do NOW, and incorporate it in your life. The rest will follow. Do you have more ideas or resources that you can share with us? I’m sure there are many others trying to make a difference.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Crystal's Cozy Kitchen February 26, 2010, 11:23 am

    I grew up in a rural area where there are farmers, and we actually would get manure to fertilize our garden. I was also spoiled by getting beef that was raised by my grandparents. These cattle had plenty of land to roam around and eat during the summer and were fed grains during the winter. There is nothing to compare to the taste of this type of meat!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 26, 2010, 2:38 pm

      That’s Crystal. It’s really interesting because I was talking to people about it, and they don’t like the taste of fresh meat and poultry. They felt it was too fresh! Or too strong! I guess the meat on the market is tasteless 🙂

  • Stef February 26, 2010, 12:27 pm

    joel salatin is one of my heroes! i’ve never even heard of this movie but must check it out. monoculture = so messed up, drives me batty!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 26, 2010, 2:40 pm

      If you ever come to Virginia, you should go visit their farm. I’ve been there once two years ago and it’s beautiful. I grew up in a city, so farming is not a knowledge I grew up with, but definitely learning. Check the movie out. Food Inc is another good one but it’s to negative. Fresh gives you hope… I like that better…

      monoculture=bad… I agree

  • Nagla February 27, 2010, 9:35 am

    Thanks for sharing, Nour! This is something I’ve really been thinking about a lot more lately. Hope to be able to find some local co-ops and farmer’s markets to check out!

  • rebecca subbiah February 27, 2010, 3:11 pm

    oh must watch this movie always try and buy sustainable esp seafood
    have a great weekend Nour love Rebecca

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 27, 2010, 9:50 pm

      It’s a good movie Rebecca, and it’s positive and gives you hope as opposed to scaring you from putting anything in your mouth! I can do more when it comes to sustainable and I’m working a plan! I hope everyone else is too…Thanks!

  • Stella March 5, 2010, 3:05 pm

    This is a great article, Nour! I have to say that I don’t agree with the comment, but only b/c it begins with ‘Americans’. I have a multicultural/national family and they are all afraid of inconvenience. I notice this all over the place, and it seems many people aren’t willing to spend more on environmentally sound, cruelty free food. I am though! I’d rather have healthy food I can feel good about over a new pair of shoes any day.

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD March 5, 2010, 8:23 pm

    Thanks Stella. I think when they said “Americans” they meant people who live in America, regardless of their original nationality. I grew up in Jordan and people do spend time on their food. And we only ate seasonal. When I moved here, it was really easy to pick up on the convenient/easy food products. I can’t speak about other countries of the world though and how they compare to our food system here.
    Lol: food vs. shoes! There’s a big poster I get frustrated by in the mall I go to. It says” “eat ramen noodles, buy designer jeans”… hhhhh