On Sunday November 23, 2008 Maplewood Memorial Library hosted an event titled “Slow Food: Healthy and Responsible Eating.” According to the flier, “The Slow Food movement emphasizes fresh, local food grown or raised in an ecologically responsible way.”
I couldn’t attend the event; I had a prior commitment. But certainly my thoughts were on what the featured speaker, Gary Tonucci, had to say. I confess I’ve since visited the Slow Food movement web site hoping to find answers. I did visit the national site, and New Jersey chapter… Tonight however, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS interviewed Michael Pollan on “Changing the Way We Eat,” the author of the ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.’ Immediately familiar with the book (having been lent a copy by a very progressive resident & Professor of Anthropology) I realized immediately what I was hearing was, in large part, about the Slow Food movement. Certainly a lot of topics were covered during his interview. For that interview visit Bill Moyers Journal
His message regarding the need for change in the American diet is as much for government as it is for individuals. In October 2008 Pollan published an open letter to the presidential candidates titled “An Open Letter to the Farmer in Chief” stating “that the health of a nation’s food system is a critical issue…” What I’d like to touch on is the connection he makes to key ideas during his interview, ideas that I think are really important for our communities and our children. Michael Pollan’s message to the public is that Americans need to change the way we eat. Families across America purchase fast food and processed food, which has led to a rise in diabetes and obesity among Americans – hardly refutable. Shop strategically he suggests, and be prepared to cook. Cooking can make the difference, even with regard to wealth and poverty he argues. Wealthy Americans, he states, who eat out regularly can face more health risks than poor Americans who cook healthily.
His message resonates with me. Pollan mentioned the importance of fresh produce in daily diets, and how community farmer’s markets and community gardens can, have, and should continue to meet this need. While it is true that supermarkets cornered the market on produce distribution, alternatives do exist he points out, and they should be explored.
Maplewood Township has had a farmers market for years. Visit farmers market online for this information. [Maplewood Farmers Market, Springfield Ave. at Indiana St. Municipal Street parking lot July – October, Monday, 2:00 P.M.- 7:00 P.M.] South Orange also has one, quite picturesque in fact. I’ve visited it also, and it’s found by their local pond. [South Orange Village Farmers Market, Meadowland Park/Duck Pond, At Ridgewood Rd. N. & Mead St. June – October, Wednesday, 2:30 P.M.-7:00PM.]
Gardens: Private & Community (Schools & Urban Agriculture)
Private. A challenge proposed by the author was for the President Elect to section of a piece of White House lawn and create a family garden. Eleanor Roosevelt famously championed the family garden, creating one while in the White House. Pollan quoted a high figure of Americans who followed her lead and fed their families this way.
* I would just ask President-Elect Obama and his wife Michelle to let Malia and Sasha choose between taking care of their [manly] dog or taking care of their family garden. I want them to have positive experiences while at the White House and not so much hard labor...
Schools. Across the country schools have incorporated the garden into the curriculum. Seth Bodyen Elementary School has a very attractive garden. …I’m really taken with this lovely sign...
- Detroit: Detroit Agriculture Org
- Los Angeles Common Ground
- Philadelphia: Neighborhood Gardens Association & PHS – Green City Strategy
- New York: Clinton Community Garden & Capital District Community Gardens
- Nationwide: Urban Community Gardens
- Cornell University: Urban Agriculture
© 2010 W. S. Hughes l Updated 11.19.2010