Chairman, Apex Farmers Market and Local Food Alliance
Mayor Pro Tempore, Apex Town Council
Nutrient rich. Obesity. Food desert. Healthful diet. Food insecurity. Eating environment. Physical activity. These are all terms or phrases that are used when addressing the growing concern of how one’s diet and eating patterns impacts one’s health. The link between diet, physical activity, and chronic disease is so apparent that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a goal to, “Promote health and reduce chronic disease risk through the consumption of healthful diets and achievement and maintenance of healthy body weights.” (https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/nutrition-and-weight-status).
While the message regarding diet, nutrition, and physical activity has been around for many years, there are still challenges to addressing the growing need to provide healthy food options to all communities. There are even more challenges to having people adopt healthy eating patterns.
Recently, during the Town of Apex’s Founders’ Day Celebration, while watching the film What’s on your Plate? (http://whatsonyourplateproject.org/) at the Halle Cultural Arts Center, I realized the complexities in truly understanding how there are so many factors that impact one’s diet and access to local, fresh food. Living in suburban Connecticut, my dad attempted to plant a “garden” but our fresh vegetables were actually grown in my grandparents’ North Carolina gardens. I didn’t realize until much later what a blessing that was. Some children today, even those who live in rural communities, lack access to locally grown fresh produce.
When I was very young, I wasn’t sure what a short-order cook was, but my parents made it clear they weren’t. I had to eat what was prepared. Upon moving to North Carolina at age 10, it was on my grandparents’ porches snapping beans and shucking corn while enjoying their company, that I became impressed with real food.
In Apex, providing residents and businesses with fresh food are food retailers, farms and a thriving farmers market with vendors who offer “double bucks” for shoppers who have SNAP benefits. http://www.apexfarmersmarket.com/
The film, What’s on Your Plate?, co-sponsored by the Apex Farmers Market, reminded me of The Healthy Food Small Retailer Corner Store Act, House Bill 250/Senate Bill 296 supported by the American Heart Association with the goal of increasing the availability of healthy, affordable foods through small retailers. http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?BillID=H250&Session=2015
Access to healthier foods can result in better health outcomes, increased school and work productivity and improved life quality. If passed, this initiative would assist retailers in stocking fresh, local produce and nutrient-rich foods, while providing a link within the community to farmers and fisherman. Finally, this statewide effort would provide greater access to our neighbors in rural, underserved communities, encourage healthy behaviors, improve overall health and health costs, while promoting and expanding local business. To learn more about assisting communities with providing fresh produce, visit these links.