Like most Americans, I watched the State of the Union to hear President Obama outline his goals for the year ahead, to understand his energy outlook and plans, and of course, to see what Michelle would be wearing (a stunning royal blue, of course).
When listening to the President highlight his administration’s clean energy initiatives, I couldn’t help but remember the First Family's goals to reduce childhood obesity in America. By no surprise, the link between nationwide health improvement and energy efficiency efforts is strong. By reducing our demand for processed and imported foods, we can improve the health of generations to come, extend our overall lifespan and reduce the energy we waste on packaging.
In the First Lady's health program, she outlines goals of improving the quality of food in schools and making healthy foods more affordable and accessible for families. The message resonates with many of us who are steadfastly moving forward with our new year’s resolution to drop the pounds – and save some energy along the way.
If you were born in 1975 or later, you are probably well-versed on the topic of organic growing and eating. We’ve heard it a million times: Organic foods are foods that have not been produced using pesticides, chemicals or unnatural ingredients. So, what exactly is it about organic food that is green-friendly? Research has shown that foods grown by sustainable agricultural methods avoid unnecessary pollution and oil consumption caused by synthetic, petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides.
In addition to the energy savings that comes from producing organic foods, growing them locally (perhaps in your own garden) saves the energy cost of shipping and importing. And while we're on the topic of growing in your backyard, it really is the least expensive option, as opposed to buying the sometimes overpriced organic produce in your grocery store.
Gardening websites suggest that many of your regular vegetables can be successfully grown in late winter/early spring, such as broccoli, beets, potatoes, radishes, collards, lettuce, peas and turnips. We've talked about composting several times – it's important to remember that your garden will benefit from the rich in nutrient soil you can obtain from composting.
While it isn't scientifically proven that organic food is more nutritious or can promote weight loss, there are thousands of testimonies online from people who have experienced firsthand that an organic diet can vastly improve health. From the reduction in pesticides and hormones to the fresher and “cleaner” taste of the foods, Americans have seen the difference in selecting organic for the foods they consume.
Looking ahead to rest of 2012, I hope we can all work alongside each other to improve our health and energy outlook and begin taking those baby steps to reach our goals – both as individuals and as a country.