Change the Way You Eat
Based on Change Food’s
Guide to Good Food
1. Educate yourself – Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing guide that answers all sustainable food questions, so you need to learn what you can about the food industry and decide for yourself who deserves your support. The following books are a great place to start: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Hope’s Edge by Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé, Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel. For more recommendations, check out Grist’s Favorite Food Books of 2010: www.grist.org/article/2010-12-20-favorite-food-books-of-2010.
2. Shop sustainable – Where do you get your food? If you answered farmer’s market, CSA or food co-op, you are already concerned with sustainability. Wherever you shop, choose local, organic and/or sustainable items over their industrial, non-local counterparts. When buying meat and dairy, look for free-range, pasture-raised, and antibiotic free. Seek out items with less packaging or skip the packaging altogether by buying bulk items with your own bags. To find sustainable farms, restaurants and markets near you, visit Eat Well Guide or Local Harvest.
3. Ask questions – One of the greatest benefits of buying your food straight from the farmer is talking directly with the person who grew the food. We ask our farmers all sorts of questions, from ‘what’s the most delicious way to cook this lamb chop’ to ‘what’s integrated pest management’ and ‘do you use any synthetic fertilizers’? If your local grocery doesn’t carry local or organic foods, ask the manager about it! You’d be surprised at the buying power you plus a few friends possess. Check out Huffington Post’s Seven Great Questions to Ask Your Farmer or visit Sustainable Table’s Question Guide.
4. Eat Less Meat – Eating lots of meat is not only bad for you, it’s bad for the environment. Eating less meat can reduce your chances of developing chronic conditions like some types of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Meat, especially from industrial feedlots, is hugely energy intensive, requiring thousands of gallons of water and approximately 40 fossil-fuel calories for every edible calorie. When you do want to eat meat, make sure you support farms that raise and slaughter their animals in a humane and sustainable way. For recipes and resources for going meatless, visit Meatless Monday.
5. Eat seasonal – No matter the season, our supermarkets are filled with a vast array of produce from all around the world. But just because you can find a stalk of asparagus in January doesn’t mean you should eat it! Eating seasonally means buying produce that’s grown locally and eating it right away. Local food has a lesser environmental impact, is fresher, and is produced by your community. That means eating seasonally is healthier for you, your community and the environment! To find a Farmer’s Market near you, visit Local Harvest. To find a CSA in NYC, visit Just Food’s CSA finder. You can also find Farmer’s Markets and CSAs at the Eat Well Guide.
6. Grow your own – There’s no better way to know your farmer than to be your farmer! Growing your own food guarantees the most healthful, freshest, and satisfying produce you can get your hands on. From a few herbs or sprouts in your kitchen window, to a full veggie patch at your local community garden, growing your own food is the coolest way to go green. For NYC dwellers, find a garden through Green Thumb. If you have high hopes and a tiny apartment, check out Windowfarms!
7. Cook – Eating out poses many challenges to the sustainable eater. How and where does the restaurant get its ingredients? How much food do they throw away? What’s their water consumption? The only guaranteed way to know your food is prepared sustainable is to see the meal start to finish; from buying (or growing?!) the ingredients, through the peeling, chopping, roasting, sautéing, and plating, clear to the last delicious bite. For culinary inspiration, visit Chef Michel Nischan’s recipe page.
8. Drink Local – Approximately 33% of the 2.4 million tons of PET plastic discarded every year is from water bottles—that means 800,000 tons of plastic water bottles will sit in a landfill for thousands of years before decomposing. Bottled water is no safer than tap water; in fact most bottled water is tap water! Trash the bottle and drink your local tap instead. To uncover more facts, watch the story of bottled water at Food & Water Watch. If you need a water refill, visit TapItwater.com to locate a spout, or download their app!
9. Get Involved – Change happens because dedicated people like you support it. Decide on the issues that matter most to you and start or join the campaigns that protect them. Visit non-profits that are fighting for good, clean food like the Environmental Working Group and Slow Food USA to get started.
10. Enjoy! Eating can and should be the simplest joy we all have. Sharing a meal brings people together in a way that little else does. Knowing that the food you eat is grown with care for the environment, farmers, animals, and your own health will only add to your joyful food experience. For tips on creating a loving food environment, check out Laurie David’s new book “The Family Dinner.”
A simple way to help change the way you eat is to support local and nonprofit sustainable groups around the country. Below are affiliated with, and recommended by, our speakers and sponsors.
Black Urban Growers (BUGs) is an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for black growers in both urban and rural settings.
The Dinner Party Project is a dynamic family-focused food education program involving children (5th-8th graders) in the entire process of producing a dinner party for their families at a school or community center.
Equitable Food Initiative certifies compliance with standards that reduce food contamination, pesticide use and health hazards in the fields.
Food Family Farming Foundation is a nonprofit organization created to empower schools to serve nutritious whole food to all students.
Just Food is a non-profit organization that connects communities and local farms with the resources and support they need to make fresh, locally grown food accessible to all New Yorkers. Just Food provides regional farmers and food producers, CSA organizers and everyday eaters with the resources and support they need to establish and experience healthy food systems—in every neighborhood.
The Just Label It Campaign was initiated by Organic Voices which was started in the spring of 2011 when a group of organic stakeholders met in Washington, DC to discuss the contamination threat posed by genetically engineered crops to organic farming.
National Resources Defense Council is one of the nation’s most prominent environmental action groups, advocating for environmental protection through its support of sustainable food systems and efforts to educate the public on the issues of climate change, pollution, and food waste among other damage we’ve inflicted on our planet.
National Young Farmers’ Coalition represents, mobilizes, and engages young farmers to ensure their success by encouraging connections between young farmers, influencing policy to benefit them, and implementing education programs to forge the next generation of skilled farm workers.
The New York Botanical Garden is an advocate for the plant kingdom. The Garden pursues its mission through its role as a museum of living plant collections arranged in gardens and landscapes across its National Historic Landmark site; through its comprehensive education programs in horticulture and plant science; and through the wide-ranging research programs of the International Plant Science Center.
Small Planet Institute seeks to identify the core, often unspoken, assumptions and forces—economic, political, and psychological—now taking our planet in a direction that as individuals none of us would choose. We disseminate this deeper understanding of root causes.
2012 Speaker Organizations
Regional Food Solutions
Regional Food Solutions LLC provides organizations and businesses with expert project development, writing, research, and facilitation. They focus on the community economic development power that comes from supporting family-scale, place-based farms in their work to produce food that is healthy for people and the planet.
Recirculating Farms Coalition
The Recirculating Farms Coalition is a collaborative group of farmers, educators, non-profit organizations and many others committed to building local sources of healthy, accessible food. They promote growing plants, fish, or a combination of both, without chemicals and antibiotics, while efficiently using water and energy.
James Beard Foundation
Food matters. You are what you eat not only because food is nutrition, but also because food is an integral part of our everyday lives. The James Beard Foundation is at the center of America’s culinary community, dedicated to exploring the way food enriches our lives.
Food and Water Watch
Food & Water Watch is a non-profit organization that advocates for common sense policies that will result in healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable drinking water.
Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University
The Leopold Center is a research and education center on the campus of Iowa State University created to identify and reduce negative environmental and social impacts of farming and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources.
Bright Farms designs, finances, builds and operates hydroponic greenhouse farms at supermarkets, eliminating time, distance and cost from the food supply chain.
AmpleHarvest.org diminishes hunger in America by educating, encouraging and enabling gardeners to donate their excess harvest to the needy in their community instead of allowing it to rot in the garden.
Humane Society of United States
The Humane Society is the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization, backed by 11 million Americans. They work to reduce suffering and improve the lives of all animals
Center for a Livable Future
Within CLF’s program areas — farming, eating and living for our future — They are engaged in three principal activities: research, educational outreach, and community action.
Consumers Union (CU) is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves.
Real Time Farms
Real Time Farms is a crowd-sourced online food guide. They provide one location where you can learn about where your food comes from, whether staying in or eating out, so you can trust the food you eat.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
IATP works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.
Center for Veterans Issues
CVI offers programs and services to veterans, including transitional housing; day services; education, training and employment services; drug and alcohol counseling; mental health services; food and nutritional programs; outreach to the community; motivational and self-esteem groups; money management and budgeting; helping veterans break the cycle of homelessness and move on to jobs and permanent housing.
Over the past 40 years we’ve worked to become more engaged with New York City and its citizens. Whether it’s operating the world famous Union Square Greenmarket, building a new community garden, training the next generation of immigrant farmers, teaching young people about the environment, or improving recycling awareness, if you’re a New Yorker, GrowNYC is working near you!
The Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) has worked for nearly twenty years to build a more beautiful, equitable and economically vibrant Bronx. We reach over 30,000 people annually through energy-efficient, healthy and affordable homes, early childhood education and youth development, family support, home-based childcare microenterprise and food business incubation.
Fenugreen FreshPaper keeps produce fresh for up to 2-4 times longer, and it’s all natural and biodegradable. They aim to address the massive and often overlooked global challenge of food spoilage (25% of the food supply is lost to spoilage each year)
2011 SPEAKERS ORGANIZATIONS
Not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to conquering disease by controlling the blood vessels that feed them.
Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
Works vigorously to end hunger in underserved neighborhoods of Brooklyn by providing emergency food access, food stamp screenings, and other initiatives.
Bees Without Borders
A New England organization that educates and trains impoverished individuals and communities in beekeeping skills for poverty alleviation.
Dairy Education Alliance
The Dairy Education Alliance (DEA) is a national coalition working collaboratively to tackle the environmental, social and economic problems associated with large dairy operations.
This magazine and information service creates community based, local foods publications in the distinct culinary region of Manhattan.
Environmental Working Group
A non-profit organization that uses the power of public information to protect public health and the environment.
The Family Dinner
An inspirational green guide to unplugging and connecting with your family over healthy, fresh food.
Finance For Food
This group educates food system entrepreneurs about financing opportunities available to support their work.
A new national service program working to reverse childhood obesity while training a new generation of farmers and public health leaders.
Working to save farming through innovative programs including Keep Farming® regional slaughterhouse initiative, national Harvest Awards, and reports including The State of Agriculture in the Hudson Valley. Also home to TEDxManhattan lead sponsor The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming.
This is the New York City nonprofit that runs the city’s Greenmarkets, community gardens, composting and recycling, school food literacy and other essential environmental education programs.
A Grow NYC & Red Jacket Orchard initiative to get fresh, healthy produce in bodegas that are located in underserved neighborhoods
Know Your Farmer Know Your Food
This is a USDA-wide effort to create new economic opportunities by better connecting consumers with local producers.
A second-generation family farm utilizing ecologically friendly and environmentally sound practices known also for their expertise in low-income and ethnic markets.
School Food Focus
This national initiative helps school districts procure more healthful, more sustainably produced and regionally sourced food.
Slow Food USA
This is a global movement that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.
This is a Wicked Delicate film and food project: a mobile community farm and a documentary about urban agriculture.
Urban Design Lab
A joint laboratory of the Earth Institute and Columbia University’s GSAPP to create a designed-based approach to shaping sustainable urbanism.
An organization that nourishes urban food deserts by supporting increased production and access to fresh, healthy food.
Window farms Project
Seeks to empower urban dwellers to grow some of their food year-round and to include them in a process they call R&D-I-Y
125th St. Business Improvement District
This group seeks to develop a community-based vision to maintain the heritage of 125th St. in Harlem through business development and job development.
A program that examines, unites and honors indigenous communities, cultures and music.