By Culinary Nutritionist, Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN
As a chef, nutritionist and author of What the Fork Are You Eating, I am always looking for edible solutions—everyday, and when in crisis. Whether it’s my personal health, that of my family, my clients’ or an unprecedented global pandemic like COVID-19, food is medicine!
The stakes couldn’t be higher right now for our personal health as well as the wellbeing of our farmers. What and how we choose to eat can positively impact both if we know what to do. As Deepak Chopra says, “Doubt and fear in the face of uncertainty can paralyze us and blind us to the good options that are available. Even in the midst of fear and anxiety, we always have within us the creative capacity to meet the situation and make use of it for our personal development and growth.”
That being said, I aim to empower you with tools to make a difference daily while negotiating new territory. If we have more time on our hands, let’s use it wisely to boost health with high quality foods from independent farmers!
While surely there is a need to buy certain items from big box stores (and hopefully you are not hoarding), independent sustainable farms in your area are still doing business and can nourish you with beautiful food. There are great advantages to tapping into your local food economy:
- Independent farms have a variety of food and products that may not be available from your normal sources (for instance, an array of vegetables and hard to find animal foods)
- Buying locally means a shorter supply chain, so less risk of disruption and more opportunity for creative solutions (delivery options, prepared foods, emergency food hubs, farmer networks and collaboration, etc.)
- There is a lack of oversight in many industries (including relaxed rules on meat labeling), thus the risk of misleading information on the source and quality of your food is high. Purchasing from a farm with an independent, third-party certification – like those offered by A Greener World – assures that the products are from animals raised outdoors on pasture and with the highest welfare standards in the industry.
- Food from animals raised on pasture has better fat quality and increased levels of essential vitamins and nutrients, which are important in triggering your body’s natural ability to get healthy and stay healthy. Never forget that healthy farms produce healthy animals who produce healthy food.
Check out the A Greener World Online Directory to find a certified farm or retailer carrying certified products in your area. View the Online Shopping options to see which farms are offering National or Regional online ordering with shipping, pick-up or home delivery.
Cook to Nourish
Hunkering down at home is a time to pull out old family recipes or create new ones that can be passed down through the generations. If cooking isn’t your thing, check out my dear friend Ellie Krieger’s Real Good Food or Food Wishes, a video library of recipes. Or you can dabble in the 50 health supportive recipes I have in my book. The patterns we create today, when we have more time on our hands, can establish a new normal for nourishment:
- Plan a daily meal. It takes 5 minutes. Maybe 10.
- If you don’t have the ingredients in house, take a safe, fun, and socially distanced trip to a local farm-but be sure to call ahead.
- Enlist the support of your family and assign meal prep and cooking tasks.
- Play your music of choice while cooking. Save your playlists as a memory of this time!
- Get creative when setting the table.
- Begin your meal with a mindful meditation—in my family we each take turns sharing: (1) our worst part of the day; (2) our best part of the day; (3) and what we are grateful for.
- Relish in what you created—talk about flavor, taste, likes and dislikes, etc.
- Clean up together.
The takeaway? Healthy food choice and connection supports immunity now and into the future. And you can maintain a healthy diet while also supporting the small independent farmer during market disruptions as well as during normal times. If we don’t keep these farms in business, they won’t be here to feed us when we need them. Sustainable farming is at a crucial growth point right now and we can’t let this pandemic wipe out decades of work to move the truly sustainable independent farms towards the mainstream. Your choice today will benefit farmers and lead the way to ensuring your health and well-being now and in the future.
Adjusting to a new normal is in order and helping ourselves while helping our regional farms is how we will take part in making a difference and healing ourselves, as well as our global society!
Stefanie Sacks is a nationally recognized Culinary Nutritionist, educator, speaker, consultant and leading authority on eating to prevent and manage illness. For over two decades, she has helped transform the way people eat using hands on experiences to inspire, educate and offer practical tools for food lifestyle change. She has her Masters of Science in Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University, is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Dietitian Nutritionist and is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. As a chef, nutritionist and innate healer she uses food as a conduit to deep transformation. She empowers people to eat and live to their full potential. Her book What The Fork Are You Eating is a must-read guide for anyone looking to make small changes in food choice for optimal health. She is a media guest expert on the topic of healthy choices with frequent appearances on the Dr. Oz Show, PBS, Fox Media, and multiple radio programs. Her extensive online and print contributions include Oprah.com, Bloomberg, The Huffington Post,Alternet, fortune.com, foxnews.com and foxbusiness.com, Family Circle, Prevention, Harper’s Bazaar, Parents, Town & Country and Allure. A native New Yorker, Stefanie lives on the East End of Long Island with her husband, two very active boys and dogs, Blossom and Faith (the girls). When she is not in her kitchen creating new recipes or feeding her family, she is swimming in the bay or hiking with her girls.