Friday, April 22, 2011

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's

For the first time ever in history, there are more people on earth living in urban areas than rural. Translation: we're living (just enough) for the city! But seriously, this means a shift in how our world is working. It's not a recent phenomenon that we no longer live on the land from which we harvest our food, but now, we're not even living on the land at all. We're living in cities, in skyscrapers, buying our produce from a display and never thinking twice about who's growing our grapes or raising our beef.

Now for some number crunching: There are over 300 million people living in the United States, all of which need to eat in order to survive (shocking, I know). Nationwide, there are currently 210,000 full-time farmers. That's 1 farmer for every 1,429 people. And considering the majority of farms fall between 1 and 99 acres, that doesn't leave much room for expansion, especially following the trend of our growth in population that undoubtedly will need to be housed and attended to. The trick, then, must be a restructuring of our conventional idea of a farm, where instead of building out, we build up.
Urban agriculture is a concept only recently invading the headlines and spurring up conversation between economists, engineers, city planners, architects, and farmers alike. And what a conversation has resulted! Suddenly, we have a means of educating the public about where their food comes from, the space to allot community gardens and gathering places, and a system of efficiently and effectively investing our money back into our own local economies. These designs for rooftop and skyscraper farms are far from unsightly, too...check out this design by acclaimed architect Pierre Sartoux:

Think about it. If so many of us desire the glamorous life of the city and the country is in dire need of a refocus on farming, why not combine the two? By supporting urban agriculture initiatives, we are supporting our own self-reliancy by creating jobs, creating informed and knowledgeable citizens, and creating revenue that goes right back into our own soil (pun totally intended)!

In the same way our farmers nourish the seeds they plant, however, we must continue to explore the ideas of "sky squash" and "above-ground gardens." One fabulous way to do so is by buying locally and getting to know the area farmers so as to foster the relationships that will build this idea from the ground up. Only then are we able to see these ideas come to true fruition and only then will we reap those super-delicious-and-nutritious benefits.

And hey, I don't think anyone would mind if one day Jack started climbing a beanstalk that sprouted right out of the Sears Tower. :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring cleaning: refreshing my eating habits

Alright, I'll admit it - I've been a bad girl...a very, very bad girl. Whether it's downing delivery Thai food at 1 am or shoveling loads of (delicious) vegan pizza in my mouth in the afternoon, my health and fitness smarts have been abused and somewhat forgotten. Last school session, I was pulling sixty-hour work weeks, interning, volunteering, and attending school full-time, all while retaining some semblance of a normal social life. And this meant a lot of racing around, a lot of late nights...and a lot of eating.

There's a secret, though! You can eat a whole bunch if you opt for healthy fare - you know, that stuff your mom always used to tell you would help you grow, things like dark, leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, and the ever-wonderous KALE), vivacious vegetables (think color in peppers, zucchini, squash), sweet fruit (as "normal" as strawberries and bananas and as outrageous as kumquat and starfruit), and, of course, lots of lean proteins like quinoa, tofu, lentils, and beans!

So why did I fall off my little health-conscious bandwagon? Simply put, I just got lazy. It happens, you become so caught up in dominating that final exam or making it through a nine-hour shift with the highest sales that you leave your health by the wayside...and often times, your sanity, too. Too often we forget that food might be our medicine, a sort of natural healing from the inside-out that helps us to feel as great as we look!

To help keep myself focused and on track, I've devised a little "clean" diet to match my recently-overhauled apartment. With spring cleaning becoming a predominant theme these few weeks and summer just around the corner (say YES to beach bod!), there's no better time to revamp your eating and fitness routine...kick out the old BLAH and say hello to the new BEAUTIFUL!

The Beautiful Life plan:
-Vegan, no animal by-products, including meat, seafood, dairy, or eggs
-Gluten-free, avoiding wheat, vegetarian meat replacements, and barley
-Limited corn and soy and exclusively organic
-No carbonated drinks or sodas; no artificial sweeteners, limited caffeine
-No potatoes or difficult-to-digest starches
-No alcohol...I'm in college, no need to explain this one!
-Lots of fresh veggies, fruit, and protein!

The most important of this aspect of "the beautiful life" is flexibility and moderation, an ability to modify, add/change or completely remove any of the elements, only striving to achieve a greater appreciation for my super fabulous bod and what it can do, especially when I treat it well and reward it for all its hard work with the fuel that will let it work harder! So hasta la vista to that blah bod and let's cheers to the BEAUTIFUL!