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[Reporting from Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, MD, Saturday, May 16th. Baltimore’s School Food Service Director, Tony Geraci interviews Author Michael Pollen….]

“We need your help on this type of ‘Food’ Michelle Obama is growing….” Discovery Channel’s attempt to get Michael Pollen’s help on figuring out what all this hype is with Michelle Obama planting just plain old fruits and vegetables. Come on people! It is just recognizing the fact that our nation needs more fruits and veggies!! Remember, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants”. Michael Pollen’s motto. He was asked by interviewer Tony Geraci how he came about this, Pollen’s response was, he wanted it to be broken down in simple terms to get our attention. Eat food, but not too much of it, but wait, processed foods shouldn’t be included, sooo, mostly plants! It makes perfect sense, well he said he got some heat on both ends of the spectrum: from the vegetarians and the meat eaters.

“Grass Finish“. Pollen is a meat eater but he says he only consumes “grass finish” meat. I thought this was very interesting. He explained that a lot of times in Whole Foods and other natural stores, “grass fed” may not mean just that. Like for instance, he visited a chicken farm in California where they named the meat “free range” but in reality, 30,000 chickens are stuffed inside a closed pen with only 2 doors on either side of the space. Of course they aren’t going to go outside, all of their food and water is INside, they have never seen OUTside before, so they don’t venture out there. But because they have “access” to outside, they allow to say “free range” chicken. And same goes to beef, it may be called “grass fed” when only a couple months out of their lives they have grass, then they finish with grain and corn to beef them up before they are slaughtered. This is all very interesting because the FDA has loose restrictions on what is allowed under the terms of “Free Range” and “All natural”. So the next time you are in the super market, try to look for “pastured raised” chickens, this means they live outside. And talk to your butcher about where your meat comes from. Most likely at the farmers market, meat sellers will be willing to talk to you about their process. 

Educate our Kids. Tony Geraci is Baltimore Schools Food Service Director. He started this year the Great Kids Farm. With greenhouses and chickens, Tony teaches the kids how food is grown by showing them. His mission is to bring kids back to understanding where our food comes from. It is a chance for kids to take part in growing their own fruits and vegetables. Plant it, watch it grow, then eat it. How fun is that! By this, more fresh fruits and vegetables will be available in the lunch room, while less “chicken” nuggets and processed foods will be served. He was explaining how lots of the products out in schools have “fruit flavors” disguised in a can or bottle. He shouted “No wonder our kids are confused! Aluminum cans and bottles are calling themselves “apples” and nutritional. What happened to a plan old apple?!” Tony believes if we teach our kids how to eat in school then it can set up for future consumers of the next generation. Education is key on the future of our agricultural system. 

ReEstablish our system. Our tax dollars goes towards subsidizing only 5 products: Corn, Rice, Soy, Cotton and Wheat. Notice I didn’t mention a fruit or a nutritional vegetable. So our money is going towards millions of tons of corn which is then turned into cheap food for us and our cattle. This only creates health problems as cattle are not suppose to eat corn, so then our tax dollars are spent on medicating the cows to make them not sick. The average American eats 9 ounces of meat a day…We eat what the cow eats. So beef packed with anti-biotics, corn and God knows what else then makes US sick. In 2006, 3 out of every 5 American’s are over weight. According to the UN, in 2000, the number of people suffering for OVER nutrition – 1 billion, surpassed the number suffering to malnutrition – 800 million. That is a lot of healthcare we need to cover and could be less if we concentrate on bringing back less processed foods into our Western diet. That means tell our government that we want more money towards farmers who are growing fruits and vegetables. Start LOCAL, check out what your city or state legislators are doing to support local farms. Together, lets REestablish our food system….

Check out Washington Posts article on Tony Geraci and his plan to grow kid’s school lunches. 

and of course Michael Pollen’s website for his books and next stop on his tour.

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