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Archive for August 9th, 2010

A Fresh Idea

Nourish Farm-to-Family Philanthropy, based in Sheboygan, WI, brings local farmers, volunteers, struggling families, and professional chefs together to share meals made with fresh, local ingredients.

Christensen knew there had to be a way to get a steady supply of local produce to the neediest eaters, who survive largely on a diet of packaged pantry foods.

She pondered the dilemma for months until she came up with a plan for an innovative charity she calls Nourish Farms. For one afternoon each week, volunteers “tour” organic farms that operate as Community Supported Agriculture farms, or CSAs, and they assist in the harvest of whatever produce is ripe. Then, guided by a professional chef, the volunteers turn the harvested food into a meal to share with residents of local shelters.

Organic, farm-fresh foods are too expansive for lower income families to afford. Stuck eating junk, these populations are at greater risk to develop health complications associated with obesity, which impedes their productivity even more, putting them on a vicious downward spiral. A recent article in the New York Times pointed out that, in the USA, “Obesity Rates Keep Rising“:

Americans are continuing to get fatter and fatter, with obesity rates reaching 30 percent or more in nine states last year, as opposed to only three states in 2007, health officials reported on Tuesday.

The increases mean that 2.4 million more people became obese from 2007 to 2009, bringing the total to 72.5 million, or 26.7 percent of the population. The numbers are part of a continuing and ominous trend.

But the rates are probably underestimates because they are based on a phone survey in which 400,000 participants were asked their weight and height instead of having it measured by someone else, and people have a notorious tendency to describe themselves as taller and lighter than they really are.

The article, however, lacks any discussion of class and obesity. Poverty and health cannot be solved independently, as they are deeply intertwined.

Hopefully, charities such as Nurish improve the obesity trends by providing healthy food to those most in need of it and helping people rethink their relationship to food.

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