National Public Health Week: Food

April 7th

God bless you Cooks Illustrated

No secret I love a new Cooks Illustrated and having weekend time to cook up a storm for friends. This weekend: homemade hummus, buttermilk biscuits, chicken pot pie. Today, these food photos play well into my food and nutrition theme.

This week is national public health week in the United States; it is the perfect opportunity to discuss what we each can do to improve our community’s health. I studied public health because it in theory it provides a basic standard of health for everyone. It is a form of social justice. You should have clean drinking water, access to markets with healthy foods, a safe living environment, immunizations, access to health care, etc. We all should. We all can.

making the hummus

Chickpeas, spice, roasted garlic +

Today: Food
The US is a fat nation; ironically, the US is also a hungry nation. We have a growing issue of hunger that rarely gets any press because the much noisier issue of Type II diabetes and obesity gets the nutrition attention instead. Don’t get me wrong — both are serious concerns. What we don’t talk about is this: in the United States obese people (who are often dealing with Type II diabetes) are hungry because they are eating the cheap junk available to them. Obesity — only in America — is often a sign of poverty. In simple terms, the inexpensive foods are processed and high in calories. Fruit and veggies are expensive. Whole grains are more expensive than their cheap, sugary white counterparts. I lived on a food stamp diet for a week last year. My challenges of staying within a $19 budget for 21 meals is journaled here.
Check out what’s available at your local dollar store, or the ethnic grocery in the bad neighborhood in your community. Often the produce is pricey and bruised and the Cheetos flow like manna.
So, what can we do?

tahini and oil

Tahini, lemon juice and olive oil =

Locally: Donate to your food bank. Sounds simple and easy, but it is a great way to get involved and play a part to the solution to ending hunger in your neighborhood. And don’t donate food. Give cash. Food banks can buy three times what the average consumer can through their networks. They need your money and your time. Arizonans, here is a great resource that could use your volunteer efforts.
Also, I try to keep a few $5 gift cards for local restaurants in my pocketbook. When I see someone homeless or otherwise obviously in need, there is nothing that lights up a face like the thought of a good meal. Community dinners seem to have a similar effect.

roasted garlic and spicy squash hummus

Roasted garlic hummus and spicy squash hummus. Healthy, inexpensive, easy to share with friends.

Nationally: Get involved with America’s Second Harvest. They are the national lobbying arm for the hungry in the US and they are doing some pretty darn amazing things. Also, vote. Know your representative’s issues on funding things like the farm bill — one of the most important pieces of legislation that influences every single American.

chicken pot pie with biscuits -- CAOK for a sick friend

Chicken pot pie topped with buttermilk biscuits for a friend recovering from surgery. I used locally grown veggies and buttermilk from a local dairy.

Eat locally and seasonally. One of the best ways to help the earth in regards to equitable distribution of food is to eat what is grown in your own backyard. Don’t eat strawberries/salmon/sashimi year-round without considering the carbon footprint of such nonsense. If Americans ate seasonally and locally, we’d revolutionize the amount of food available to folk internationally. It is a humanitarian and patriotic move and something I am working to achieve. It can often be difficult to find locally produced meat, for example. (And needless to say, no sushi in Phoenix is local. But this makes visiting Seattle that much more fun!) Thankfully, we are culturally moving toward providing greener options in food production and consumption. Phoenicians interested in becoming locavores, check this out!

buttermilk biscuits, cooling

These would be even better with a bit of Arizona acacia honey and a pat of butter from Dugan’s dairy.


Posted in
Good to Great, Journal, Public Health
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22 Responses

  1. Must have that hummus recipe! I love hummus. Also, what are your fave markets? That would be an intersting post. I’m always trying to find places that carry local and/or organic foods. Thanks!

  2. Excellent post Kelli. As one with Type II diabetes I so much agree that the box foods and frozen foods that have become so popular and cheep are a big reason so many are unhealthy today. I have changed my husbands and mine cooking/eating habits that have included much of what you have mentioned. The results have actually been a big reduction in our grocery bill! It just requires time, energy (to cook, find recipes, etc), determination to change old habits.

    The hummus looks great. Love it and it is great with cauliflower and carrots – yummmmmm:)

  3. I have never had humus!

    Very nice post. My job is actually greatly influenced by the Farm Bill. As of now I’ll be layed off at the end of the month unless they can find more funding.

  4. Nice post Miss Kelli. I have been trying to work in more local/organic foods into my shopping lately too. The book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is inspiring and offers up lots of useful, factual information.

    Also, at lunch today, I found a special edition of Cooks Magazine. The Light 2008 edition (my Pop didn’t get it with his subscription). Can’t wait to take a look at it tonight.

  5. For gardeners out there, many local food banks accept donations of fresh produce and some even run “Grow a row for the hungry” programs where you add a row to your garden specifically to donate to food banks.

    If you’re in the SF Bay Area, has lots of information about their services and is a huge resource for the hungry in the area.

  6. I am so onboard with all of this, and thankful that there are people like you out there advocating for public health.

    (Side note: Kev and I just started making all our own hummus, no more pre-packaged for us!)

  7. Never ate it… maybe i should give i a try!

  8. Oh yummy! I love love love homemade hummus.

  9. We just got that issue too! Joe is a hummus guru and we eat a lot of it around here. He approved of the recipes in Cook’s Illustrated. 😉 Love that magazine! And I like your idea of keeping gift cards…that’s a great idea.

  10. kelli, this is great. the husband and i have been on a huge kick of eating non-processed foods. it is amazing how inexpensive it can be – but it does take more time, and that’s something a lot of people do not have. wouldn’t it be cool to teach a food shopping/cooking outreach class for people in poverty who need and want to spend less/eat more healthily, but don’t know where to start?

  11. Finny has a great suggestion up there. If I ever manage to get my garden in, I’ll be donating some of the surplus veg to our local homeless shelter. It’s a great way to teach kids about growing your own food, using what you have and also aharing what you have.

    I think you’ve convinced me to drag out the food processor and make some hummus. Maybe with some sun-dried tomatoes.

  12. Kelli~I’m giving you a standing ovation for this post! I hope that all of your readers(I include myself)will go out this week and donate what they can to a food bank.

  13. i need that hummus recipe. love cooks illustrated. and love that you are posting about this, so relevant and yet so overlooked. the farm bill is absurd. so disappointed in the congresswomen representing my state. grr.

  14. Very helpful information. I did not know some of the things you shared. For example, I did not know it was better to give money rather than actual food items. I’ve always filled bags and bags with food whenever there is a food drive. I think I will continue that effort for my mailman, the Girl Scouts, and other groups’ food drives, but I’ll add money next time, too.

  15. Great post – very informative. I can’t wait to see your next installment!

  16. Hummus is one of my all-time favorite foods. Easy, quick, healthy, and so, so tasty.

    Instead of buying (un-needed) gifts for our family members at Christmas, my husband and I decided to give that money to a charitable organization. After much research, we decided to contribute to America’s Second Harvest. It’s a wonderful organization in need of funding and donations.

  17. And eating seasonally is much cheaper. And I learnt to re-invent the leftovers, another way to consume less and save money. Thanks Kelli for always be a source of inspiration.

  18. A well-written and informative post – thanks for writing it. I would love to know more about what I can do locally (in the UK) so I feel compelled to do my own research (thanks for the nudge to do this). You do have some suggestions that work (I like the voucher idea although thankfully where I live there is very little homelessness). And I am pleased to say I have already started thinking about local produce and not buying it just because it’s available – I check the label to see where it came from now. I wish our big supermarket chains here would do more to promote locally grown food though. A local produce section would practically guarantee I only ever buy seasonal.

  19. One of my very fav quotes I have to share here as well advocating veganism as another way to fight hunger:

    Isn’t man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife by the millions in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billions and eats them. This in turn kills man by the millions, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative-and fatal-health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the adsurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out cards praying for “Peace on Earth”.

    This makes me cry every time I read it. But it’s so true.

    This is the preface from Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coates

  20. Great post, as usual Kelli. Thanks for you insight and well worded thoughts.