Our 2015 Resolutions—No, it’s not too late to begin again. Will you join us?
February 10, 2015 by Lori Diamond Nersesian
By now, most of us have forgotten the New Years’ resolutions we made on Jan 1. But, it’s not too late to revisit and implement today! We have 10. All are designed to be people, planet and animal-friendly — to help ease the burden of food insecurity in NYC, and put action to the insight we share all year long.
Will you join us?
1. Stay informed, engaged and active.
In 2015, we pledge to post one blog every month on a major topic impacting food insecurity with suggestions for how you can be part of the solution.
2. Eat one extra meal at home, weekly.
Have you heard the expression, “eat real food?” Well there’s no easier way to do that than to cook at home. Why?
For starters, it’s better for our health because we can control WHAT we’re buying (the quality, the source), HOW MUCH we’re eating, and HOW we prepare it. It’s less costly than eating out. And it helps reduce food waste because we have way too much food in our pantry already.
In 2015, we’ll have some fun by challenging ourselves to prepare a meal with the ingredients we already have at home, getting creative and taking some risks. We’re going Top Chef! We may even invite you over with a bottle of wine to join us!
3. Eat meatless on Mondays.
There’s a movement afoot to eat less meat, or increasingly as a side dish, and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It’s called Meatless Monday and we pledge to give it a go in 2015.
4. Eat leftovers (until they’re gone!)
More than 40% of food produced in this country is wasted before it ever even makes it to the eater! It happens at the farm level, during transport, at the grocery store, in restaurants and at home. There’s produce that’s grown on farms deemed “too ugly” to sell at retail. The lack of regulation and arbitrariness around expiration dates influences people to toss otherwise edible food. Then there’s the issue of food scraps winding up in landfills, rather than being composted, further contributing to the ozone hole.
We pledge to make shopping lists, eat what we buy, freeze what we don’t, donate excess and be generally mindful of food waste with the goal of cutting our waste in half in 2015.
5. Buy local, seasonal, sustainable and humanely raised (as much as possible).
There’s a growing group of family farmers working hard to bring farming back to its proverbial roots—when the land and animals were healthy, free from chemical fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics. If we support them, this can happen. And once supply meets or exceeds demand, the lower the costs.
Some thoughts of how to begin: buy organic, local and in season as much as possible. Start with eggs and milk. Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) for fresh fruits and vegetables all year long, direct from the farms. Read labels on chicken, beef, pork and fish to determine in what conditions they’ve been raised and what they’ve been fed. At minimum, choose hormone-free, antibiotic-free meat. Many large grocers (Whole Foods, Fresh Direct and others) and restaurants (e.g., Panera Bread, Chipotle) have done a great job helping consumers make better choices by offering healthier, kinder menu items.
In 2015, we pledge to support sustainable growing and rearing practices.
6. Drink less soda.
2014 pretty much implicated added sugar as the major factor in every major chronic disease—diabetes, obesity, cancer, the list goes on. More than 35% of the US population (20 years and older) is now considered obese. There’s even a link between obesity and food insecure populations.
Soda–with sugar AND sugar substitutes–has been identified as a major offender.
In 2015, we pledge to eliminate soda from our diets.
7. Minimize intakes of processed food AND fast food.
It’s a widely known fact that the unhealthiest and most processed food tends to be the cheapest. Laden with sugar, salt, fat and chemicals—and engineered to be addictive—it’s intended to fill our bellies at the expense of our health and nutrition. In fact, fruits and vegetables, bought in season, along with brown rice, beans and potatoes, are affordable, filling and undeniably healthier!
In 2015, we pledge to eat real food, whole foods, only packaged foods with fewer than five ingredients, and make fast food the exception not the rule.
8. Make restaurants accountable for better ingredients.
Although we’re resolved to eat more real food–at home (see resolution #2)–we do enjoy a great meal out every so often. Going forward, we will seek farm-to-table establishments and inquire about certain menu items—especially beef, chicken, pork and fish. We will avoid those injected with hormones and antibiotics, and certain wild and imported fish. Additionally, we will be more discerning about the restaurants we choose and support those that are sourcing their ingredients more mindfully. Happily, they’re cropping up all over major cities, including NYC, as more and more ‘cheftavists’ lead the change in the food movement.
9. Support healthy school meals guidelines.
Sometimes, school meals are the only sustenance the nearly 20% of food insecure children in NYC can rely on daily. In 2014, the National School Lunch Program saw big changes—not just to portion sizes and calories but also nutrition standards. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act mandated leaner protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains and more fruits and vegetables. Other changes include sodium levels and added sugar.
But, the School Nutrition Association (SNA), comprised of school food service professionals, found these new mandates difficult to swallow (pun intended), citing increased cost and food waste as concerns. In fact, they lobbied Congress to roll back the advances.
We pledge to support healthier school meals at all costs; vote with our voices and dollars; and sign our names to every petition that comes our way to ensure our kids are well fed.
10. Organize OR participate in one food drive.
With the new Farm Bill in 2014 came SNAP (food stamps) cuts, reducing needy families’ food budgets by about $36 per month or 21 meals. This put a lot of pressure on the nation’s food banks and pantries to close the Meal Gap, and help people get through week four. In fact, demand continues to exceed supply at food banks across New York City, despite initiatives among restaurants and groceries to donate excess food. Every little bit helps. And each one of us at ATE will do our part in 2015 by organizing or participating in at least one major food drive.
Finally, with your help, we pledge to continue our support to individuals, organizations, projects and/or new models working towards greater food security measures across the five boroughs of NYC in innovative, replicable and sustainable ways.
May 2015 bring good health, happiness, peace and an ample table for everyone.
Happy New Year!