Concern with food and nutrition has always been a topic amongst women, especially in our present-day culture.
The multi-million dollar diet industry is evidence that concern for health, weight, and food consumption is an ever-present force that looms over the lives of women, subconsciously or intentionally.
Food seems to matter.
Lately it seems that there has been an explosion of interest in local foods and veganism, as talk of this is everywhere.
In its most simple sense, veganism can be described as the practice of refusing animal-based foods and products.
As a practicing vegan (or local-vore as I like to call myself -- we’ll get to that later), I can attest from personal experience and the voices of others that veganism is no simple practice to adopt into one’s lifestyle.
And as simple as our definition sounds for what it means to be a vegan, it appears that most vegans whom I have come across espouse a more intricate set of beliefs and practices.
This can include an interest and concern for food economics, environmental sustainability and social justice in the production of food, as well as philosophical or spiritual beliefs.
Let’s back up a bit.
We can’t generalize why it is that anyone, women in particular, chooses to become a vegan. It is no interest of this author’s to determine what is right or wrong in how it is that an individual arrives at the decision to make this lifestyle change (or this simple interest in learning more about what veganism and “eating locally” is all about).
Whether it is for health reasons, a desire to lose weight, a deep moral concern for the environment, a passion for social justice -- perhaps all of the above and much more -- it is worth understanding what veganism is about and how one might come to an understanding of its practices.
Let’s start with the idea of eating locally. Often the two go hand in hand.
Eating locally is mostly consuming foods that were produced within or very near your living community, especially from farmer’s markets.
Practically speaking, local food production can be thought of in a few layers that start with growing food at home. The next layer out might be food grown in your immediate community -- then state, region, and country.
This idea of buying foods from local farmers markets can come from a variety of reasons.
Someone might choose to buy their food locally based on the economics of putting their money into the local community versus a large corporate supermarket that is involved in massive industrious farming production.
For some people, the reason for shopping locally may be a distrust of supermarkets and the practices of industrial farms -- especially concerning their treatment towards animals.
You can ask anyone who is a practicing vegan and you’ll find that the reasons are diverse. It is also the case that not all vegans maintain a strict dietary regimen, some live veganism as principle, not law.
I decided to do a bit of research, as I have noticed that this movement towards a justice of food production and consumption is clearly on the rise. I have seen that at times, deciphering what foods to eat and where to start can be overwhelming.
Some advice is offered here from two well-versed women with experience in farming and eating locally, as well as educating the community on how to do so.
In an interview with Monika Woolsey, CEO and Founder of “inCYST Institute for Hormone Health” and former Director of Marketing at “Chow Locally”, when asked what she felt was most important about eating locally, her answer was that it keeps money in our economy.
“One of the places we assume that we cannot spend locally is for health care. We send billions of dollars each year to states like New Jersey in exchange for medications we think we need. The reality is there are many foods we can eat that may reduce the need for those medications.”
Woolsey’s passion with eating locally comes from her experience in working with sufferers of infertility, depression, acne, hair loss, weight gain, eating disorders, and more.
Woolsey works hard in educating the community on the health benefits of eating locally.
Her initial investigations with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) showed that most information offered to the public was “being generated by pharmaceutical companies who saw profit potential or by Internet marketers who wanted to sell supplements.”
Advice that Woolsey would give to someone who wants to start eating locally is to start visiting farmer’s markets, even if you don’t buy.
While you’re there, ask questions. Most farmers love to talk about their foods, and you can get ideas about how to fix local foods that you may already be familiar with.
In a similar vein, Chelsea Pickett is co-founder and operations manager at Tempe Arizona’s local “Don Carlos Farm”. The farm’s mission is to be a place for discovery, exploration and growth by providing youth and community programs.
They work to empower their community and create a positive environment by fostering a relationship with local and organic food. The farm is in Pickett’s back yard.
“My advice for people who want to eat locally is to go out into their own neighborhoods and explore. Talk to your neighbors, plant some edibles in your own back yard and check out your own area [community] via bike or foot. This is a great way to find hole-in-the-wall places that don't have corporate budgets to advertise.”
Pickett acknowledged that the best way to start getting more information, and even to begin building your own garden, is to simply get out there and try it.
“The internet also has good resources for eating locally. Also, FARMER'S MARKETS! Talk to the folks at the farmer's market and get to know your local food growers and farmers.”
Lastly, Pickett inspires us to just get up and go for it!
“I think people perceive large barriers to gardening when really it's not that hard. Expect some 'failures' and keep digging! Experiment and enjoy! Research and do. It is best to grow as much as you can from seed, that way you know exactly what is being added to the soil and you can ensure that there were no pesticides or fertilizers used.”
You can find your local farmer’s markets by researching online and checking out the resources attached to this article.
Fierce Women Series: Monika Woolsey.Green Feminine Hygiene Queen Blog. Retrieved June 20, 2012. http://greenfemininehygienequeen.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/fierce-women-series-monika-woolsey
Don Carlos Farm Facebook page
inCYST Institute for Hormone Health:
Pickett, Chelsea. Email Interview. June 18, 2012.
Woolsey, Monika. Email Interview. June 17, 2012.
Other additional Resources:
The Foods Not Bombs Movement
United States Department of Agriculture
Reviewed June 20, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith