Sustainable Table’s Guide to Good Food

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Welcome to our first installment of Sustainable Table’s Guide to Good Food! I’d like to provide you with simple ways to shop smarter, eat healthier and make the best food choices for you and your family. I have come to realize that our website is getting quite large, and it might seem a little overwhelming for those of you who are new to the sustainable food issue, so we thought this series might help you better understand the problem and solutions.

I plan to break down the series into 10 simple steps (outlined below). I’ll go slow and try to be thorough while not being overwhelming – some of the steps might take a few months to get through; others might take only a week. If you get confused or have any questions along the way, please let us know. I’m hoping to eventually turn this into a guide or book that you’ll be able to download for your own reference and to share with others.

The Ten Steps to Eating Sustainable are:

1. Educate yourself
2. Shop sustainable
3. Ask questions
4. Reduce your meat consumption
5. Eat seasonal
6. Grow your own
7. Cook
8. Take back the tap
9. Spread the word
10. Enjoy!

The first step “educate yourself” is probably the one that will take the longest. There is quite a bit to learn, but, if you’re like me, you’ll not only find the material informative, you’ll find it quite interesting and might find you want to learn even more about the issues than we’ll cover here. As I always say when I speak – when we are looking to buy a car or a computer, we do a lot of research. Why don’t we do that with our food?

So what do you need to know? I’ll be breaking this section down into the following categories (though subject to change somewhat as we start getting feedback from you):

• What is sustainable and what is organic?
• What is industrial agriculture or factory farming?
• Why buy sustainable?
• Major issues – there are many problems with our food system today, but we’ll be covering the main problems. You can always get more detailed information on Sustainable Table’s Issues pages.
o Additives
o Antibiotics
o Environment
o Food Safety
o Genetic Engineering
o Health
o rBGH

Next week I’ll jump in and start with an explanation of what sustainable food and farming is, what organic is, and how they are both similar and different.

For now, if you are excited to start learning and are looking for some books to pick up, we recommend the following:

Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan. This is considered by many to be “the” book to read if you’re interested in sustainable food and factory farming. Michael Pollan is one of the leading figures in the sustainable food world, and the book is a must read. Pollan has also published a number of other excellent books, including In Defense of Food.

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlossser. Schlosser investigates the fast food industry and its effects on our society, including the parallel rise in industrial agriculture. Fast Food Nation was also made into a movie and is available on DVD. (And as an extra added bonus, The Meatrix videos are on the DVD!)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver. Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family spent a year eating locally, either growing food themselves or buying locally from farmers, and proved that it can be done. An easy and interesting read for someone new to the issue of eating locally.

There are many other books you can read, but these three are a good start.

Until next week, eat healthy and stay happy!

(Diane Hatz is the Founder of Sustainable Table, Executive Producer of The Meatrix movies and co-Founder of the Eat Well Guide.)

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