Ashley Hofmann is completing the final practicum to earn her Masters of Social Work from the University of Missouri. Her academic research focuses on disparities in access to health care and how policy can act as a catalyst for social justice.
What if you changed just ten percent of your food habits? Would you eat more organics, buy food with less packaging, get eggs from a local grower or cook at home more often? If 10 cents of every dollar you spent on food was shifted to healthier, more sustainable choices, what kind of impact would that make – on your health, the economy, the environment?
These are the questions behind a new documentary called Food Patriots, which I first heard about at an institute on food access around the world presented by the University of Chicago's Center for International Studies, followed by a dialogue with filmmaker Jeff Spitz.
The goal behind the film is to spark a conversation about our individual purchasing power as consumers of food.
The choices we make in (and out) of the supermarket drive the food industry and determine what is available, both physically on the shelf and financially at an affordable price. The idea is that growers, manufacturers, and retailers respond to market demands. Consider the example of something as simple as ketchup: if today we all stopped buying ketchup with high-fructose corn syrup in it, for example, not only would the ketchup recipe change, but companies would also purchase less corn from large agribusinesses, which in turn could open up markets for farmers who grow produce for human consumption. The list of examples goes on and on: increased consumer demand could increase our access to chicken raised without antibiotics, recycled packaging, food with fewer additives and fillers and much more. Where would you start?
The film urges consumers to find out where their food comes from and how healthy it is, using the mantra, "It's not rude to ask about food!"
As individuals, each of us can make a small 10-percent change. As a whole, we can drive changes in industry, the economy, and the health of our planet, our children, and ourselves.
Not sure how to get started changing your food habits? The film’s website has 10 great suggestions that are easy and practical first steps. Here are a few other resources to get you thinking about the power of your dollar:
- Save money shopping organic: An article in the Los Angeles Times with tips
- Good Food on a Tight Budget, an interactive resource guide by Environmental Working Group and Share Our Strength
Also, take a moment and head over to the Food Patriots web site to see the film trailer, join the effort, and watch member videos showing changes they are making in their communities. And be on the lookout for the documentary’s release in January!