Ten Ways ToEnsure Healthy FoodFor You and Your Family

Published on Thu, Sep 23, 2004
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Ten Ways To Ensure Healthy Food
For You and Your Family

“Right now, we still have a choice about the food we eat – a choice between food that is grown and raised locally by family farmers or food that is produced on factory farms. But this choice is disappearing each day as local family farms – the producers of fresh, healthy food – are displaced by giant food factories.” Willie Nelson, founder and president of Farm Aid

Below are 10 Ways To Ensure Healthy Food and to help support family farmers and healthy food reprinted from the Farm Aid publication of the same name:

1. Know your food.
Food can be produced in a variety of ways, but food production that is based in family farming practices – a family farm food system – is the best for people and the environment. Family farmers grow good food that chefs, nutritionists and food professionals seek out. Knowing and understanding the benefits to buying this type of food will help Americans become healthier while supporting their local farm economies.

2. Be an active food shopper.
Being an active food shopper is about recognizing good food and demanding it from stores and restaurants. Learning and understanding labels, certifications, and packaging can help food buyers know when their food is grown by a family farmer or if it is organic. Asking super market managers, restaurant chefs, and vendors questions about the food they sell – Where did it come from? Is if fresh? How was it grown? – is the first step in becoming actively involved in buying food.

3. Ensure that your food dollars support family farmers.
Before a food buyer can be aware of where their food dollars go, they must be committed to supporting family farmers and fresh, healthy foods. Farm Aid asks folks to take the Local Food Pledge, promising to purchase a self-identified amount of local food each week, ensuring their food dollars are supporting family farmers and their local farm economy.
4. Get to know a family farmer.
Food buyers can approach farmers at farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, or other programs where food can be purchased direct from family farmers to ask questions about and to learn more about the foods they eat. Farmers work hard to grow good food and can talk with consumers about how farms operate, ways food is produced so it is good for people and for the environment, and about what eating good food now means for the future.

5.Teach children how to grow food.
Children are the world’s future food buyers, and have influence over what food choices their parents make. Teaching children the value in growing fresh food will give them the tools they need to support these principles as they grow older. School gardens, farm-to-cafeteria programs, and community youth gardens are all innovative ways to get children and teens involved in the food production process.

6. Bring food and farm issues to your community.
The Pacific Northwest is home to a variety of organizations that address important community issues, including food and farming issues that should be discussed in every community. Even seemingly unrelated activist organizations can be aware of how food and farm issues affect the community – from pollution and the environment to economic development, animal welfare, labor laws, nutrition education and health – and voice their desire for change.

7. Strengthen local support for farmers.
People in any community can become involved in farmers’ markets and CSA programs in the area. The area chamber of commerce can provide information on the location of these activities, or can help concerned citizens start their own programs. In Washington alone there are several groups that help interested food buyers identify farmers’ markets and assist farmers in securing all logistical needs to participate such as insurance, tax deductions and other state and local regulations.

8. Get involved in grassroots efforts to save family farmers. Connecting with folks about food when people are buying food is a way to begin the conversation about grassroots activities that support family farmers and family farm food systems. Many public awareness campaigns, non-profit organizations and local businesses support grassroots efforts that promote good food for the Seattle area, and are receptive to new members and fresh ideas about strategy, tactics, and outreach.

9. Demand democracy in our food system.
Voting is the most powerful tool people in the Pacific Northwest and across the country can use to guarantee their food has been produced in a way that is good for everyone, including the environment. Food policy is decided on a local, state, and federal level, each government lobbying the next for change and forward progress around food and farm issues. It is important for voters to be educated on a candidate’s farm policies to help family farmers get a fair price for their product and guarantee that value is placed on the quality of the food and not the quantity of the food being produced.

10. Become a food and farm activist.
Across the Pacific Northwest, organization after organization is joining Farm Aid in the fight to save family farmers, keeping them on the land, growing good food for people. It is easy for people to join a group they are interested in and still support family farmers and Farm Aid by networking, and participating in food and farm related activities in the area.

For more information on ways people in the Pacific Northwest can support family farmers as they continue to grow fresh food, or to speak with a spokesperson from a food and farm activist organization about any of the above topics, contact Mark Smith, Farm Aid Campaign Director at 617/354-2922 or mark@farmaid.org.