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Food for Thought

I recently went to a reading by a well-known author of her new book about food. It’s based on a one month experiment of only eating food that is available within 10 miles of her house. The biggest impact that it had on her was a realization about how much more gratifying it can be to actually develop a relationship with the people who provide your food.

The event took place outside on a sunny Friday evening at a local coffee house that is a community hub in the seaside village of Langley on Whidbey Island. It is run by volunteers and students who get training and school credit for participating. The ongoing events and presentations are free to the public; they just ask that you come a bit early to buy a coffee or snack to support the work of the “Commons”. This is very typical of Whidbey Island - community, inclusiveness and generosity.

Like the local “Good Cheer” food­ bank - an extraordinarily robust operation, that provides food and basic supplies for over 900 families a month. While it provides sustenance and support to the community, the organization is also focused on the bigger picture of how the food balance has tipped so much in the wrong direction; where processed, genetically modified food is the mainstay instead of the “treat” that used to be indulged in once in a while, and the fresh, healthy “real” food is often overlooked.

Good Cheer Garden.JPG

The facility is set up just like a grocery store - customers take their cart and choose from a huge supply of items which are either donated or bought with proceeds from the Good Cheer thrift stores. Instead of dollars, the currency is points that customers are given for their family for the month. The place has its own huge, garden overflowing with fresh vegetables that are beautifully presented in the refrigerators at the magic grocery store. There is one big difference though - unlike the “real” world, the higher the nutritional value of the food, the “cheaper” it is. So a bag of fresh, organic vegetables costs one point, whereas a box of hamburger helper or other processed food would use up 5 points. What a concept!

I love this island and all its community programs and small-town caring for its citizens. And I’m grateful that my other island home, Tasmania, has recently voted to continue indefinitely as a GMO free state so that somewhere in the world there’s still a place where they won’t be trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube after they realize the GMO path is not the best one.

Thanks for listening…


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