Monday, April 5, 2010

"Green Dietitians" Share Grocery Shopping Tips

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day is coming up fast! I was 20 when the first one was held, which was such an impressionable age. :-) Fast forward (ha ha!) 40 years and here is a short but great article exploring the link between taking care of our soil, our environment, and our food, by sharing grocery shopping tips from many "green dietitians" who are members of the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association.

I've had a 40-year journey since starting as a science 'nerd' chemistry major (3 years) who switched to biology the end of junior year wanting to be an environmental biologist due to the influence of that first Earth Day, who took one nutrition course last semester senior year, then went off to grad school to get a PhD in nutritional sciences, stumbled onto a life-changing book Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé shortly after it was first published while taking a study break in the Ag library, lost complete track of time and read the entire book in one sitting (in those pre-cell phone days, my husband was frantically wondering where I was and why I did not meet him to ride our bikes back to our married student housing apartment together like we did every night), quickly changing from a PhD program to become an RD (no short or easy task), oh I could go on and on and on. :-)

In any case, during this journey I have now come full circle back to becoming an environmental biologist as a dietitian-farmer with an application and focus on sustainable agriculture and food systems. It is really so simple - no soil, no food. As a nation (and indeed the world) we urgently must do everything possible to save and organically rebuild the fertility of our soils (i.e., agro-ecology or applied biology) versus using synthetic chemicals (i.e., applied chemistry) to get our food production (from policies to farm to fork) to become optimal and sustainable for the long-term health of our environment, our economy, and our communities (addressing concerns from social justice to our personal health and much in between).

I am right where I should be, even though in many ways I feel like I am 40 years late. :-)

Dreams? Advice? I hope the 40th anniversary of Earth Day is inspirational to many of you, young, old, and in-between, and leads to your own dreams. In addition, I hope many of you find and act on your dream, whatever it might be, much earlier than my husband and I have. (Thank you to my friends who have assured me that 60 is the new 40!). However, I think the best words of wisdom I can share linking those two words is that it is never too late to find, to follow, or even go back to your dream. I think my next career as an environmental biologist, one who is also a dietitian-farmer, will be different from what I envisioned at age 20 but will also be better by using the lessons I have learned during all of my past 40 years.

So I am right where I should be, without the previous caveat. :-)

Another highly influential book I have read is Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization by David Montgomery. However, I'll end with one of my all time favorite quotations about the importance of healthy soil from another book because of the beautiful visual images these words create in my mind while reading and thinking about them:

Soil is the tablecloth under the banquet of civilization.
~ Steven Stoll, Larding the Lean Earth (2002)

I hope you will remember this evocative quotation plus the simple but profound image of "no soil, no food". The above linked article is filled with recommendations for choosing foods that come from agricultural systems that are re-building our soil's ecological health.

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

1 comment:

lookinout said...

I always enjoy it when you post.