Foodscaping your way to a healthy 2020

Foodscaping provides front-door access to the most nutritious, best tasting fruits and vegetables possible

With the start of the new year and health-related resolutions on the minds of many, we thought it would be timely to consider dieting trends and how foodscaping enables healthy living. 

Every year U.S. News releases a fresh batch of diet ratings produced by their expert panel of registered dietitians and researchers. Click here to read last Thursdays article on what makes a healthy diet. Here’s our takeaways:

Top overall diets for health and weight loss are plant-based

The one common theme across all of U.S. News’s Best Diets is that they are ‘plant-based’. Diets that are primarily plant-based feature meals that revolve around fruits and vegetables. Top diets included the Mediterranean Diet, DASH Diet, and the Flexitarian Diet.

“The recurring theme across the diets that excelled in healthiness is adequate calories supplied by a heavy load of vegetables, fruits and whole grains; a modest amount of lean protein, nonfat dairy and healthy fats; and an occasional treat. Plants are the foundation, and the menu is always built around minimally processed meals made from scratch (emphasis added).”

From Castaneda (2020) What Makes a Healthy Diet?

Many popular weight-loss diets receive low ratings because they don’t work in the long run

U.S. News’s list disfavors fad diets that are extremely restrictive (e.g., Atkins, Keto) or use gimmicks for fast artificial weight loss. In order to be successful in the long run, a diet needs to teach balance, moderation, and it needs to get us in the kitchen. Many people aren’t used to cooking tasty meals with plant-based sources, so healthier eating necessitates learning how to cook.

Sustainable health requires deeper lifestyle changes 

As the food industry at large has moved ever more toward processed, prepackaged and fast foods, the key to sustainable health is making significant lifestyle changes in multiple areas of our daily lives. We need to exercise. We need to cook. We need to view food as more than just a commodity. We need to make conscious, educated choices about how we are fueling our bodies. Why wouldn’t we want to choose the best possible fuels for ourselves and our children? However, a food lifestyle change is easier said than done.

Most grocery stores sell flavorless imposter vegetables

Junk food dominates our surroundings and sourcing nutritious foods with real flavor has become increasingly more difficult. This is especially the case in many rural areas, inner cities, and other food deserts, where there is either no access to fresh fruits and vegetables or they are shipped across the country. By the time these vegetables reach our hands they are terribly lacking in flavor and nutrition. The truth is that many Americans think that ‘plant-based’ equals ‘boring and tasteless’. And, admittedly, I don’t think we can blame people for saying ‘I don’t like tomatoes’, when the only tomatoes they have access to taste like wet cardboard. People don’t eat vegetables, because the vegetables in grocery stores are often flavorless imposters lacking in authentic taste. As a consequence, many people feel that potato chips, candy and (insert miscellaneous junk food) are the only foods that reliably taste good. As fantastic as U.S. News’s #1 ranked Mediterranean Diet is, I think it is only successful for people when they have access to high quality, tasty plant-based foods. Access to high quality real food enables people to make lasting healthy lifestyle changes. That’s where foodscaping comes in.

Foodscaping provides front-door access to the best possible, most nutritious, best tasting fruits and vegetables in the world

Foodscaping leads to an awesome abundance that makes it not only possible to plan plant-based meals but necessary. When your healthy tomato plant is in harvest, it’s not going to give you just a tomato here and there. An abundance of different crops inspires you to get creative in the kitchen and learn how to combine foods and learn how to cook with real food and real ingredients.

An abundance of a given particular fruit or vegetable allows you to make meals that feature whatever is in harvest that day. It’s easy to want to make eggplant parmesan when you are swimming in eggplant. Suddenly, primarily plant-based meals aren’t so difficult to plan, because…what else are you going to do with 10 pounds of eggplants? You can make that eggplant parm and still have plenty to share with your neighbors and donate to a local food bank.

Start growing some of your own food

Of course, it is not easy to go from not growing any food to suddenly growing the majority of your own fruits and vegetables. We recommend starting with a vegetable bed or two and a well planned fruit tree or grape vine, and then you can scale it up as desired. If you don’t have outdoor space, look into patio gardening or hydroponics. And since it’ll take some time to get going, in the meantime seek out farmers markets, CSAs and get to know your local farmers. While your front yard is as local as it gets, fresh fruits and vegetables from nearby farms might be able to provide a close second. And even if you decide not to scale up your own foodscape:

having the experience of even growing one vegetable will dramatically reconnect you with what real food is and where it comes from.

The pride and joy that comes from sowing, raising and harvesting an abundance of your favorite veggie can have a transformative effect on you. It is that kind of transformation that will lead to sustainable lifestyle change. It may get you exercising to make sure your baby veggies thrive. It may inspire you to learn to cook. It may inspire you to spend the extra time to go to the farmers market. And it might just inspire you to not only foodscape your own yard, but to help others do the same.

Foodscaping makes healthy food a part of your landscape, your surroundings, your everyday life. Foodscaping brings food back to our communities, to our culture and reconnects us to the awesome beauty, the incredible taste, and the abundance that nature can provide right outside your door.

#growyourown, #foodscapingutah

Learn how to get started growing your own food.

Learn foodscaping hands-on by volunteering.

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