The Occupy Cookbook is a “do it yourself” program that shows you how to keep your hard earned cash out of the hands of the one percent.
Today we’re going to look at food. We all know that good nutrition is essential to our health and well being. In fact, a good healthy diet coupled with exercise can contribute to a healthy heart, stronger bones, an increased sense of well being and lower health costs. Exercising lowers our risk for many types of diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and lung disease, just to name a few. It also has been proven to reduce depression as evidenced by a study done by JAMA Internal Medicine.
Now many people think that eating healthy is more expensive. It is. A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health puts that added cost at $1.50 per day or almost $550 per year. But, if you craft a good wellness program for yourself a study done for the Harvard Business Review shows that for every dollar you spend on a wellness program you end up saving $2.71. So, by eating healthy and exercising regularly you actually save $1.21 per day or over $440 per year.
But what does eating healthy look like? After watching leading experts in the fields of health and healing at the Seeds of Doubt conference in 2014, I have to say it’s not eating genetically modified foods.
From 1997-2002 there was a doubling of peanut allergies. In 2006 one in seventeen kids had a food allergy. In 2014 it was one in thirteen. The CDC reported that from 1998 to 2008 there was a 265% increase in the rate of hospitalizations due to food related allergic reactions. This 265% correlates to the first ten years of the introduction of genetically modified foods.
Currently 1 in 68 children have autism, 1 in 10 have asthma and 1 in 3 have allergies, ADHD, autism or asthma. And cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in American children. Rates of autism have increased 30% from 2012 to 2014. The CDC estimates that of the kids born in the year 2000, one in three Caucasion kids, and one in two Children of Color will be insulin dependent. Now I’m not saying that all of these things are caused by genetically modified food but if by eating healthy and exercising regularly we can save money, be happier and live healthier lives I think it pays to stay away from GMOs.
But, trying to figure out which products are made from GMOs and which aren’t isn’t easy, especially when according to Nation of Change.org in 2007 Monsanto owned 87% of the world’s genetically modified seed and spends billions of dollars lobbying to avoid GMO labelling. So why don’t we have someone else do that work for us.
Enter your local food co-op. Food co-ops around the country focus on providing healthy local food. As for carrying non-GMO food they are probably the leaders in the food industry. A study commissioned by the National Co-op Grocers shows that co-ops generally carry 82% organic compared to 12% at conventional grocers. Organic produce has to fight disease to survive as compared to chemically supported produce which needs chemicals to survive. That means that organic produce is healthier. So you’re more likely to get healthy food at a local co-op than you are at a conventional grocer.
Unlike conventional grocers food co-ops are owned and governed by their members. Which means they serve and benefit their local communities more than conventional grocers. For every dollar spent at a co-op thirty eight cents is returned to the community versus twenty four cents for conventional grocers. Food co-ops are almost always regionally based. They invest in local farmers at a rate of 2.4 times that of conventional grocers.
When you look at produce, local produce is going to be fresher and provide you more nutrition. A study done through the University of California at Davis, shows that fruits and vegetables are the most health promoting when harvested close to peak maturity. In North America produce can spend up to five days in transit after harvest. Produce grown in the southern hemisphere may take a few days if shipped air freight or several weeks if transported by refrigerated ship. At the retail store produce may spend 1-3 days on display before purchased and up to seven days before consumption.
The longer produce is separated from the plant the more nutrition it loses. In some instances produce is harvested prior to reaching it’s full nutritional value then loses more of it’s nutrition in transport. This is all to say that the most nutritious produce is, that which you pick in your own garden, bring to the table and eat right away. The next most nutritious is that picked at a local farm that morning. And when you consider the value of nutrition lost from farm to supermarket (2-55%) those non-organic, early harvested, transported products actually cost more.
Now we’ve shown you that eating healthy doesn’t have to be more expensive. And that local produce is more nutritious. But there are other costs here that we tend to ignore. One of those is the carbon footprint of food grown out of state compared to that grown locally. Food grown out of state has to be trucked in state. That requires labor and transportation costs. Locally grown food has lower costs in both of these categories. Buying from the big guys means you’re contributing to global warming more than if you buy local.
Another advantage to buying at the food co-op is the recycling factor. At a co-op you can buy in bulk and reuse your own containers. And co-ops recycle 96% of their cardboard versus 91% by conventional grocers, 74% versus 39% of food waste and 81% versus 29% of plastics. So you cut down on waste, which again decreases your carbon footprint.
Well, there you have it. Shopping at a food co-op saves money, increases your health through better nutrition, supports your community, keeps you away from doctors, the medical industrial complex and keeps your hard earned cash out of the hands of the one percent. And many food co-ops pay you a dividend at the end of the year. They figure how much money they’ve made and spread it out amongst their members. Crazy, huh?
That’s it for this version of the cookbook. In our next blog we hope to show you how to supercharge your nutrition for pennies on the dollar by growing your own micro greens.
Jim Sea holds a Masters in Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology, a Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver, was a registered investment advisor and a residential realtor.