The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed by the President March 11, 2021. Here's what we see as the agriculture and nutrition highlights that will have a significant impact on our continued path to recovery.
Have you heard? The new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) were recently released this past month. As we move into 2021, the timeliness and, also the irony, of the release of the guidelines is not lost on us. Timely, in that they were released just in time as 2020 turned to a close. And ironic, that the urge to focus on an ideal diet in midst of an awful pandemic - that is intimately intertwined with the longstanding injustices that are part of our food and health systems – with increased food insecurity, disruptions to our food system, political strife, and food worker injustices. The light of this context make the DGAs feel like a being offered a five-dollar coupon for an on-flight beverage after your luggage was lost and your flight was canceled. But, yet, despite these realities, our understanding of how we all SHOULD eat marches on.
The evolution of the science that goes into the DGAs is nothing to scoff at. This most recent guidance marks the 9th edition of the DGAs which have been released every five years since 1980. The process of what goes into the final document is extensive. Final guidelines are made following an extensive scientific review. The committee’s expertise and understanding of the dietary guidelines is well researched, understood, and evidence based, though it is worth noting that concerns related to food industry bias have been raised in the field.
It is also worth noting that the intent of the DGAs are in the interest of public health. The new DGAs state that key tenants of writing the guidelines are that it must: represent the totality of the evidence examined, address the needs of federal programs, reduce unintended consequences, follow best practices for developing guidelines, and use plain language. For many, these DGAs are useful for making functional food choices. In reality, humans don’t just eat for nutrition. Nobody will argue that nutrition matters; however, food is also a source of pleasure, of community, of family, of history and tradition, and life. Context also includes social and historical constructs and systems that influence choice, availability, and relationships with food. We hold in equal regard the context of eating as we do the nutrition the food provides. The complexities behind the reality of our relationships with food, and why we champion certain foods and vilify others are deep.
And there are consequences, unintended or not, from failing to include these contexts. From solely an individual behavior lens, research is continuing to mount on the impact of restriction and feeling restricted on our relationships with food with expectations that individuals should meet nutrient guidelines and patterns. Even expecting individuals to make nutrition the priority of every meal, greatly ignores the reality of life and role of psychology and environment in eating. Add in the context of poverty, food insecurity, trauma and loss of food traditions lecturing about healthy eating starts to feel like victim blaming. Our health, our diet, and wellbeing are intimately and intricately intertwined with larger systems that shape us. Things beyond individual responsibility and control. Deep rooted systems tied to historical and ongoing forms of racism, oppression, and poverty. There is design behind what is available to us and what shapes why we eat what we eat.
We are happy to see that there is recognition of the importance of reducing unintended consequences, but do these words have meaning or just a placation? The truth is, despite 40 years of increasingly detailed guidance, Americans are no closer to achieving them. The guidelines acknowledge that over time, eating patterns in the United States have remained far below the dietary guidelines recommendations. These trends are evident across all socioeconomic levels. So why are we offering slightly modified guidelines over and over every five years and expecting a different result?
What about holding the industry and systems that shape food choices accountable? Despite clear understanding of how increased sugar intake, salt and saturated fat impact health, food environments are no closer to matching the guidance. How can we expect Americans to prioritize nutrition when they are battling for basic needs, coping with injustice, and living in environments designed to add harm?
Obviously, this context matters. So, when sharing and interpreting this information, in the face of the many reasons behind why people eat what they eat, let us resist the urge to double down and smugly argue “eat less, move more.” Perhaps it is time to instead, look deeper into the contexts not included, to listen and revise our approach. In the context of moving into 2021, with the light on systemic racism, structural issues, and systemic traumas, it is time to shift power. Maybe folks aren’t meeting the guidelines because our food system is unjust. How about we stop putting the burden of meeting the guidelines on the individual when the guidelines are better targeted to the system itself.
We won’t see trends improve in meeting the dietary guidelines until the emphasis of meeting these guidelines is targeted back at not focusing on changing the individual, but rather changing the system.
Hear from our team members about the programs of Pinnacle Prevention and how we navigated the historically significant year of 2020 with our partners, clients, friends, and family. Thanks for such a successful year, even amid the challenges.
So many food banks and senior housing sites graciously worked with us (on very short notice!) to distribute fresh produce bags to seniors that they serve through the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (Senior FMNP)
We were able to deliver produce bags for seniors throughout the Valley by teaming up with:
St. Mary’s Food Bank in Surprise
Desert Mission Food Bank in north Phoenix
Justa Center in central Phoenix
Nourish PHX (formerly ICM Food & Clothing Bank) in central Phoenix
Azcend Community based in Chandler
Mercy Housing sites in Gilbert, Mesa, Glendale, and Guadalupe
We simply could not have served 1400 seniors without the dedication of so many individuals behind the scenes. From the Mercy Care Resident Services Coordinators, to the food bank directors, to everyone who helped unpack hundreds of bags from our van, many souls came together to provide delicious vegetable bags for our senior neighbors. #AZFMNP
Blue Sky Organic Farms is a diverse, family-run organic farm growing 120 crops in Litchfield Park in the West Valley of Phoenix. Led by David Vose and Sara Dolan, the farm grows year-round in the challenging Phoenix climate.
We were grateful to add their sturdy+tasty green kale, purple kale, and Swiss chard to senior FMNP produce bags, and it got rave reviews! We also want to thank David and Sara for their efforts to protect farmland, and encourage folks to sign up for important updates on farmland access in Maricopa County here: https://www.goodfoodfinderaz.com/save-farmland
You can find Blue Sky’s produce for sale at their farm store (4762 N 189th Avenue, Litchfield Park,85340) on Weds/Thurs/Fri 12-5pm or Saturdays 9am-3pm
Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market
RoadRunner Park Farmers' Market
Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market
Uptown Farmers Market on Wednesday
Gilbert Farmers Market
They also offer Double Up Food Bucks Arizona at the farm store, and participate actively in Sun Produce Co-op. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram for fresh, organic produce updates.
Thank you Sara, David, and team!
Maria and Cristian Reyes recently started Reyes Farm on their land in Paulden. Their family is steeped in farming traditions — Maria’s father and mother, Ruben and Maria Hernandez, are steadfast produce and tamale vendors at farmers markets in Northern Arizona. They have enjoyed continuing to interact with their farmers market customers and offering new and unique products such as lemon cucumbers, tatsoi, and tiger melons.
We enjoyed being able to tuck their cherry tomatoes, peppers, and greens varieties into seniors’ produce bags. We’re grateful to Maria and Cristian for their support and trust as we both gain experience in the wholesale arena.
You can find their fresh produce at the Prescott Farmers Market (winter hours Sat. 10am-1pm), Sedona Community Farmers Market et (winter hours Sun. 12-4pm), and Flagstaff Farmers Market.
Sun Produce Co-op was started in 2017 to increase the viability of small-scale growers in Arizona and has now grown to be a network of 25+ farms, distributors, and buyers across 6 counties that together strengthen our local food system. By combining multiple farmers' product volume and variety—as well as resources and expertise—SPC saves growers time and money, and ultimately keeps them on their land.
SPC collaborated directly with Nourish PHX, formerly ICM Food & Clothing Bank to pack and distribute growers’ produce to senior CSFP participants. Cooperative growers who contributed to the seniors’ bags include Crooked Sky Farms, Blue Sky Organic Farms, Briggs and Eggers, Whipstone Farm, and RhibaFarms; a full list of SPC farms can be found on their website.
We’re so thankful that SPC and Nourish Phoenix could assist us with the logistics of moving hundreds of pounds of fresh produce, and hope that you support them on social media. Institutional, wholesale, and retail buyers, as well as restaurants and individuals looking for farm-fresh produce, should consider an SPC delivery!
Visit sunproducecoop.org for more information.
Whipstone Farm is a family faarm in Paulden, AZ owned and operated by Shanti and Cory Rade. Alongside their hardworking team, the Rades grow over 100 unique vegetables and flowers on their 15-acre farm. They are kind stewards of the land, choosing not to use any synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides. We bought 23 different veggies from Whipstone Farm, from bok choy to winter squash -- all of which were enjoyed by the Senior #FMNP recipients! #AZFMNP We’re grateful they were able to supply such a strong variety of products for us on such short notice.
You can buy their produce:
1. At their farm stand on-site (self-serve open daily, on the honor system)
2. Subscribe to their CSA
3. Purchase weekly on Saturdays at Prescott Farmers Market., winter hours 10am-1pm.
4. Their products are available through Sun Produce Co-op for buyers in central/southern Arizona.
Support Whipstone Farm by visiting www.whipstone.com for more information and follow their Facebook page at Whipstone Farm and on Instagram @whipstonefarm
Shanti also writes a weekly email newsletter that is informative and honest about farm life - you can sign up for it on their website, check it out!
Based in Paulden, Juan Aguiar Bravo and Keeton Aguiar established Blooming Reed Farm in 2019, continuing in their family’s deep farming traditions (Juan is the son of Fernando Aguiar, featured later this month). They proudly use sustainable and no-till practices on their land to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers.
We especially loved adding this farm’s hearty root vegetables to the senior’s produce bags: sunchokes, parsnips, beets, and carrots!
Support Blooming Reed Farm this winter by following them on Facebook and Instagram, @bloomingreedfarm and buying their goodies at the Prescott Farmers Market on Saturdays, winter market hours 10am-1pm. Their produce is also available through Sun Produce Co-op for buyers in central/southern Arizona.
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