You see dear Friends I have this idea, but right now it’s just an idea, bordering on fantasy. But to properly propose my idea we have to go back a few weeks to when I was watching this program on PBS (public broadcasting station). The program focused on the health of a lower-income community and how many were suffering. In fact their poor health seemed to echo their impoverished state. The citizens had poor diets, mostly fast food, and in turn their health suffered, their poor eating habits were passed down to their children and this vicious cycle continues.
Poor health inhibits your ability to perform and most likely contributes to making other bad choices. I know if I am not feeling well I don’t make sound choices, I think that’s just a natural cause and effect relationship. I don’t think that this is relegated to this one neighborhood, in fact I do not think that it is necessarily a pattern followed by only those with lower-income. I know that when I am working on something that stresses me out and requires most of my time and energy I tend to get fast food too. It’s not something that I am proud of and in fact it’s a habit I am trying to break. But I think the difference is that I know better and that I have access to healthier choices. In contrast most of the food choices offered in lower-income neighborhoods are fast food and the markets tend to sell fewer fresh produce, and from what I have heard the quality is lower as well as the prices being comparatively higher. That is enough to be anyone feel depressed and locked into this pattern of unhealthy living.
I do not think that this is fair. My fervent belief is that everyone should be able to eat and they should be given the choice of being healthy. I am not going to go into the politics of how there is actually enough food to feed the world but various issues prevent people from getting the food they desperately need. That crap I leave to morons who think they can rule the world (yeah, I know I don’t use words like crap a lot when writing, but good gravy I could not think of a more apt phrase for it).
So onto my idea, it’s small but I think it’s doable, but it has to be something supported by the community. I was thinking that folks could learn about healthy eating and part of which would be learning to grow their own gardens. That’s part of why I thought I would experiment and see how difficult it would be for me to start a micro garden. It has proven to be a doable task as well as enjoyable.
I’ve got a few rudimentary ideas running around in my head right now. I think the initial initiative would be to teach people about the importance of a healthy diet and the impact of food on our health. It’s surprising how some people are quite unaware of this fact. Our bodies are a machine and what we fuel it goes throughout our system, what we ingest will contribute to our overall health as well as on a cellular level boosting our immune system as well as slowing the aging process (possibly reversing previous damage). Eating well can only benefit us, and once you can effectively communicate that I think that most people will listen. After all no one wants to be sick. The second message should be that eating healthy can be affordable, easy, and most importantly easy. I think the initial push would be the hardest, it is hard to break people of their patterns before it’s too late, or a lot of damage has been done.
Once people understand the importance of eating right I think learning more about the food they eat is important. The best way is to grow them. You can see what it takes to nurture them and you appreciate each bite. Here is where community support can be handy, if there was a place for people to meet and learn about gardening, a place to interact and actually sow the seeds that would be great. If there weren’t a place for discussion I think a virtual space would be good. If there weren’t vacant lots to plant or places to keep the potted plants, then people could most likely keep them at home (you can have a nifty indoor garden if you are committed). But that’s the thing, I think maintaining people’s commitment could be a challenge. When you are just starting a new path, sometimes it’s easy to abandon it and go back to your old habits if it is not regulated.
I know there are some programs out there that are structured like this, one of my favorites is Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard. I love what she is trying to do. Children are a great way to start and I wish this program was available to more schools. It’s sad that many people think of Alice Water as an idealist, it makes eating well sound like an unattainable goal. Here is a clip of Mrs. Waters talking about the program.
Right now I am trying to understand what I need do to start, I think this is the sort of thing that once you start you begin to see what direction to take. There are a few established organizations but they are scattered all over the country, that makes it difficult for people who do not live in close proximity to the location. I think it would be nice to have something virtual that way people can access it from anywhere in the world or maybe outline a small program which can be easily duplicated. In any event this is what I am mulling over at present. Any thoughts?