Getting off my nutritional high horse

Mariel Beaumont
Nov 4, 2015 · 4 min read

Remembering what really matters

Meat is murder. Gluten is evil. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But intermittent fasting is the most effective way to burn fat. But not if you’re female.

Your coffee probably has mold toxins. But good coffee with butter in it will make you skinny. Oh, but not if you’re female.

Anyone else’s head spinning? The conversations about nutrition we have are incredibly nuanced — and approaching embarrassing.

I just learned this: 29 million Americans live more than 1 mile away from a supermarket. 1 in 3 American children are overweight and obese. And it comes as no surprise that these figures are not spread evenly across socio-economic status. Obesity rates climbed for all children, but low-income children fared the worst, their obesity rates increasing by 13% greater than average.

I’m at Whole Foods deciding between organic Curly Kale or the organic Red Russian Kale while people in my city have trouble getting broccoli on their plates at a reasonable price.

I’m not criticizing our desire to optimize our diets and learn more about nutrition. I’ve struggled with weight and have, at times, been vegan, vegetarian, paleo, primal, Bulletproof, and slow carb. (…and I apologize to anyone who encountered me during those phases).

It feels like a struggle, but in perspective, it’s not that much of a struggle.

Not when a bunch of Americans neither have the resources nor access to the basic stuff. Tomatoes. Eggs. Avocados. Apples. Spinach. Broccoli. The foods I have the privilege of choosing to eat (or not).

So what do we do?

We can educate, and we can help.

There is an organization called The Food Trust working on addressing this exact problem, and is seeing some encouraging results. Founded in Philadelphia 20 years ago, its mission is to ensure everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and the information to make healthy decisions.

They provide healthy food and nutrition education programs to schools, work with corner store owners to increase healthy offerings, and bring farmers’ markets to communities that lack affordable produce.

And they’re making headway.

A recent study by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health found that — for the first time in decades — the obesity rates among Philadelphia school children decreased by 5 percent between 2006 and 2010.

The Food Trust is not only winning locally, but nationally as well. They’ve been working with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health to enact federal policy change to encourage fresh food retail development across the country.

Their work has even been recognized by the White House. In her remarks at Fresh Food Financing Initiative, Michelle Obama described the work of The Food Trust as “groundbreaking” and “hopefully will set the tone for what we can do throughout the country.”

It‘s difficult work, but also rewarding. One volunteer, Gail Furman, who describes her experience with the Trust as “the best volunteer gig I’ve ever had,” particularly loves working with the local farmers’ markets:

“These customers express their delight with the ‘Food Bucks’ program, which rewards them an extra $2 for every $5 spent on produce. The Food Trust provides the opportunity for farmers to bring their crops to a grateful audience of consumers from all walks of life.”

Mary Grace became involved with the Food Trust as a freshman at Temple University. Her main source of food growing up was from large chain stores, and over time she became increasingly aware of where her food came from.

“I have been intrigued by the farm to table movement and would love to see that become more mainstream over the next ten years”

And that just may be possible with the avenue Food Trust is providing for local farmers. The weekly farmers’ markets in the city are where some local farms do a majority of their business. “Selling our produce in areas with limited access to fresh, sustainably-grown veggies was always a priority,” says Lindsey Shapiro of Root Mass Farm.

“Without the sales avenues provided by The Food Trust, we’d be scrambling to find a home at other markets or seeking wholesale options. The popularity of the Headhouse market, in particular, has allowed us to grow our business in ways that would not be possible otherwise.”

That’s inspiring to me: real, sustainable change happening in my own neighborhood.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to eat healthy, but I’m hoping to channel some of that energy into helping others eat healthy.

That’s why I’ve partnered up with The Food Trust to throw a fundraiser event here in Philadelphia on Dec 5th.

You can find more info and donate to the cause here, if interested:

Or, just hit me up and say hey. I’d love to hear from you.

Mariel Beaumont

Written by

Ex-corporate. Serial optimist. Main girl person of @churchgirlsphl. Philadelphia, PA.