By Mariette Sluyter, Whittaker Farm
This time of year we talk a lot about “healthy eating.” This concept is a bit overused, and it’s thrown around to sell so many products. Sometimes it can be a challenge to wade through the muck to what is truly healthy. We would like to offer a way to think through this challenge and consider what is “healthy” and in what context.
Eating healthy is often considered a personal endeavour. A lot of us truly want to eat healthy with our families—but how many of us consider eating healthy for the communities we belong to?
Healthy eating for you & your family can look as simple as expanding the plant based foods you eat. This is not earth-shattering news for anyone! But, did you know that more than 60% of us eat the same 7 meals most of the time? This means 7 sets of ingredients over and over again.
Beyond 7 Meals – Join a CSA!
February 24, 2017 is CSA Day! This is the day when many local farm-lovers sign up for their CSA share and show support for their favourite local farms.
Merville Organics will be celebrating CSA Day, and we hope you will join us by signing up for a share, or helping us spread our message about delicious, local, organic eating on social media.
One way to increase your consumption of plant-based foods and commit to trying new things is to join a CSA program with a local farm. Becoming a member of a CSA (or Community Supported Agriculture) can provide an eater with a variety of local and in-season vegetables each week. Becoming a member of a CSA means that you pledge to support to a local farm or, in the case of Merville Organics, a cooperative of local farms. In turn, CSA members receive a share of the produce grown each week.
As part of a CSA, you and your family will receive a box of yummy produce—including many veggies that may be new to you! Most CSA programs also provide you with recipes and tips on how to prepare these ingredients. As a CSA member, you will be challenged to break free from the 7 sets of ingredients rut, and you’ll be exposed to yummy, fresh tastes. Perhaps, some of these new types of produce will become regular, seasonal parts of your diet. It’s a great way for a family to eat healthier and have new food adventures!
Merville Organics offers a 16 week CSA from June till September. Interested in learning more and signing up? Check out our CSA info page!
When choosing how to eat, you can also consider the health of your local community. Your local community’s health will inevitably effect you and your ability to live well, so there are some very good reasons to consider your food from that perspective.
We advocate eating locally-produced foods and considering your community when making food choices. This is the first step in developing a food security system that can support eaters in this valley, and that doesn’t happen overnight.
Food Security and Community Health
A Comox Valley Food Round Table Research Project found that only 18% of Agricultural Land Reserve land in the Comox Valley was producing crops, 73% of which is hay (Statistics Canada, 2011). Only approximately 5.8% of that land being farmed is devoted to fruit and vegetable production. This production is not enough to meet the food needs of the Comox Valley Regional District by any stretch of the imagination.
It is also estimated that if our food transportation systems were to break down we would only have three to five days worth of food available if any crisis hits B.C., on the Island those numbers dwindle down to an estimated two days. Those two pieces of data should raise concerns when thinking of the health of food security and our local community. And they exist hand in hand.
Growing Local Farmers Grows Community Health
We all know that farming is hard. Land is expensive; there is not a lot of money in farming; building farm infrastructure is challenging; and small-scale farmers have a hard time surviving in the huge government push towards mono-cropping (growing singular crops primarily for export.) To grow the health of our community, we need a better balance of large and small-scale farmers. And we need to encourage local growers who grow for a local market. We need more growers here in the Comox Valley, and across Canada. Supporting new farmers and encouraging them in the local economy will contribute to the growth of this vital part of our community.
Stay tuned for the second part of this article, coming in two weeks to honour CSA Day!