Making better food choices
Eating is one of the pleasures of life. Enjoying food forms our cultural and social experiences. But we've seen a big change in diets in the past generation: Fast food and eating out, supersizing portions, processed foods, corn syrup in food and drinks.
At the same time, the rise of obesity in America has become epidemic.
Cleveland has too many food deserts—neighborhoods where a resident walks out her door and cannot find fresh food for 2-miles around. Cuyahoga County is also suffering from a 'hidden hunger crisis' where obesity grows as 'empty calorie foods' replace fruits and vegetables.
Access to and a desire to eat fresh food is a huge health issue for the 197,136 residents living in poverty in the county. All Americans need to increase fruit consumption, USDA found, by 132%, legume consumption by 431% while reducing high-starch foods by 35%.
Meanwhile, most ￼fruits and vegetables travel 1,500 to 2,500 miles and come from places like Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and Equador. Many of these countries lack safe standards for the application of pesticides or other chemical inputs.
Food is not in the right places for low-income populations, but it is not abundant enough for all populations. This speaks to enormous opportunities for fruit and vegetable production both within urban neighborhoods as well as on rural farms to enhance the health and welfare of county residents.
Read more about a vision for a healthy diet based in local food.
Local, healthy diet resources
- Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s Farm to School program
- Ohio’s Farm-to-School program
- Produce Perks, a cash match of food stamps at 17 farmer’s markets in Cuyahoga County
- Cleveland-Cuyahoga Food Policy Coalition’s Health & Nutrition working group
- Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Adult and youth “Eating Smart, Being Active” courses
- The Ohio Benefit Bank
- Cleveland Urban Growers Association, a peer-to-peer network of local food growers
- Where to find a cooking class in Northeast Ohio
- Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute
- Rip Esselstyn’s the Engine 2 Diet
Issues to consider when choosing a healthy diet
- Less processed food
- Eat low on the food chain—more veggies, less beef
- Consider vegetarian or even vegan (for health and planet)
- Eat what's in season
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