‘Climate Friendly Food’ | TheUnion.com

‘Climate Friendly Food’

Rev. Don Baldwin
Special to The Union

Malaika Bishop knew from a young age that she wanted to make a positive difference in the world and with two grandmothers who were farmers, she always came back to food.

(Editor's note: Rev. Don Baldwin, chair of the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition, has interviewed Malaika Bishop from Sierra Harvest. What follows is their short Q&A on healthy food choices for people and the planet.)

We all eat, and most of us, if not all, cook our meals. But have we ever taken a close look at where our food comes from, or how much fertilizer was used or energy was used to get that food to our tables? And how about preparing our meals?

Maybe you've questioned whether there might be ways of preparing the meal that was more environmentally "friendly" — and perhaps healthier at the same time?

A unique program, "Climate Friendly Food," addressing these and related questions, will feature Malaika Bishop, co-director of Sierra Harvest, an area non-profit dedicated to educating, inspiring, and connecting families to fresh, local and seasonal foods.

Bishop, who has received many awards for her advocacy for sustainable and healthy food, will be focusing on how to shop and cook our food to ensure, as she expressed it, "a healthy climate and a healthy you."

Recently, I had a chance to ask Malaika a number of questions about her work, about food choices, and about meal preparation. I think you'll find her responses fascinating and informative.

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[Don] What is motivating you to care so much about food and food choices?

I always knew I wanted to make a positive difference in the world and with two grandmothers who were farmers, for me, it has always come back to food. Everyone participates in the food economy and the way we eat effects our health, the health of the soil, the water, and the climate.

What concerns you in relation to a warming planet and food sources?

Arguably, 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions have to do with the growing, processing, packaging, transport and disposal of agricultural products. I am excited to have the opportunity with this workshop to share with people how to choose a climate smart diet.

As it turns out, the things that are healthier for the planet are healthier for you too. Things like eating more plants, eating less processed foods and eating closer to home will all help you live longer and help mitigate the impacts of climate change at the same time.

I imagine there is a wonderful sense of community with others who share the same concerns. What do you enjoy most about what you're doing?

I love that I'm surrounded by positive people working to improve their lives, build community and protect our agricultural heritage. It is a privilege to get to serve the community in this way.

Do you have a story that illustrates the difference that healthy food has made in someone's life?

Sarah has two boys on the autism spectrum. Her oldest, Ryan, is just 6 years old and was an incredibly picky eater with an aversion to touching dirt. He would wash his hands after coloring a picture or touching sand and had started putting gloves on everywhere.

He was so anxious about foods that he would only eat five things for dinner, wouldn't even allow a carrot put on the table next to him, and they kept a separate refrigerator for red foods, because otherwise he would not eat.

Ryan and his classmates got a Sierra Garden at their school and received monthly vegetable tastings and gardening classes. Before, Ryan wouldn't even walk into the garden, let alone try any veggies. But after a while his mother noticed subtle changes that culminated one night while she was cooking snap peas for dinner.

When Ryan came over and started eating fresh peas straight out of the bag, his mom was so shocked and elated that she started screaming. He said he'd had them in the garden and loved them and asked if he could have them in his lunch the next day. This was the first time EVER in his life that he had eaten a full serving of vegetables.

By the end of the school year, his mother reported that he was willing to sit and play in the dirt for 20 minutes, and that he would bring worms into the house to show her. She said that he regularly tells her about all of the vegetables he has tried in the garden, and that his palate is expanding daily.

The presentation

Malaika Bishop's presentation was postponed due to weather and has been pushed to a later date. For more information, call 530-274-1519 or visit http://www.ncclimatechangecoalition.org to get an update on when and where the presentation will take place. The program is sponsored by the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition, is free, and all are welcome to attend.

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