Livewell Northwest Colorado: Best thing I ever ate
March 6, 2016
I admit it: I love watching the Food Network. I got inspired while watching the show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" and realized we should have a local version of this show. Why local? What's better than farm fresh vegetables and eggs, local natural beef, pork and lamb?
The list goes on and continues to make me hungry. Whether you live to eat, or eat to live, food is necessary and a significant part of our daily lives. The choices we make in what we eat not only have obvious implications for our health, but also impact our environment, economy and community in general. This can seem like a lot of pressure to put on breakfast or lunch, but think about the implications of your choices?
Take a typical breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. Begin to think back to the farmer who raises the chickens who laid the eggs. If you bought your eggs at a typical grocery store, you can see the inspection and certification information on the package, but when were those eggs actually laid? How much was the farmer who raises the chickens paid for the eggs? What about the bacon? How were the pigs cared for? What were they fed? How much was the farmer paid? Where were the animals raised and processed? How far has the food traveled to get to your plate?
The questions become even more complicated with the bread and coffee. You can see from this example how complex our food system has become. As with most decisions we make, learning more about different options can help you make informed choices. While it may not be feasible to raise or grow all of the food you eat, there are choices. Following are a few suggestions to consider.
• Grow something — This can be as simple as a small pot of herbs on a windowsill, or if you have space, try square-foot gardening for a variety of easy to grow vegetables.
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• Raise something — Backyard chickens are more popular than ever.
• Buy local, whether from your neighbors or online at caamarket.org.
Eat seasonally — While our grocery stores bring us fresh strawberries in the middle of winter, consider eating with the seasons and what is available fresh depending on the time of year.
• Minimize food waste — Almost 40 percent of food in the U.S. ends up in the landfill. Buy only what you need, and if you have too much, donate it or compost.
The Northwest Colorado Food Coalition, a local group of nonprofit organizations and community members, continues to work on all the above issues. For example, the CSU Routt County Extension offers Master Gardener training, and volunteer Master Gardeners are available to help with local gardening projects and questions.
The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council continues to offer recycling and composting programs and information and is working on community food waste issues.
Lift-Up is partnering with different organizations to accept prepared food donations, feeding those in need and keeping food out of the landfill.
Community Agriculture Alliance provides leadership on local food issues, including support for local food producers and the online CAA Market, which offers a weekly order cycle for local food. You can buy local eggs, meat, seasonal vegetables, baked goods, local honey and more at caamarket.org
I encourage you to think about the best thing you ever ate. Where did that food come from? Can you reimagine a local version? Think about fresh snap peas eaten right off the vine, or a juicy, all-natural, grilled burger, or a chop from locally raised meat. Think of fresh bread or a homemade pie, right out of the oven. Not only does what you eat matter, but where it comes from matters, too. Local food does matter and may just be the best thing you'll ever eat.
Michele Meyer, local food/product coordinator for Community Agriculture Alliance and Northwest Colorado Food Coalition. For more information about the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition and local food, call Community Agriculture Alliance at 970-879-4370 or visit communityagalliance.org.