Spring officially starts this Saturday, March 20. The beginning of spring has long been associated with food. In fact, it was celebrated by ancient cultures, because they knew that it signaled a return of their food supply.
So, it’s no coincidence that the first day of spring has also been designated as National Agriculture Day, something I wrote about last year at this time.
As I noted last year, this observance is always hard for me since I believe in a more sustainable food system, and many of the “official” sponsors of the day are not sustainable farmers or even conventional farmers, but food processors.
Nevertheless, it’s an important day to acknowledge because it recognizes the significance that agriculture plays in our daily lives; something we often don’t think about now that less than 2 percent of our population are involved in farming. Many people have no idea where or how our food is grown and the other areas of our lives that agriculture touches.
Since agriculture is actually the oldest profession in the world, it is not a surprise that food plays such a central role as spring arrives and signals the start of planting season.
That is probably why March has also been deemed National Nutrition Month, started by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) as a nutrition education and information campaign. It focuses on making informed food choices and developing sound eating habits.
This year’s theme is “Nutrition From the Ground Up” and reminds us to focus on nutrition basics by eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods to create the foundation for healthy eating and disease prevention.
To get healthier, the ADA recommends that you take a good look at your current diet and see if you are eating enough fruits and veggies. They encourage people to add a serving each day to one meal and increase it every few weeks.
They also recommend looking locally for your fruits and vegetables. This means shopping at farmers’ markets or joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). As they remind us, it’s not only a great way to eat well, but you will be supporting your community at the same time.
Even the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is celebrating National Nutrition Month and has selected the theme of “Green Nutrition-Local, Sustainable, Healthy Eating.” This is part of its new “Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” campaign designed to support local farmers.