By Abby Calcutt
Food Day is a national awareness holiday that brings people together over more healthy, affordable and sustainable food.
This year, the Boston Public Health Commission prompted residents to join in on the celebration to show that “Boston eats its greens.” This unifying theme engaged diverse communities in the Boston area while promoting nutrient dense foods that can be grown in New England. Rich in Vitamins A, C, and K, which help keep your teeth, gums, skin, eyes, bones and blood healthy and keep your immune system strong, greens boost the flavor, color, and nutrients of many dishes.
They can be purchased from local or regional, certified organic and/or sustainably grown farms. Further, greens are one of the easiest foods to grow in the New England climate, and due to longstanding and recent work on season extension, can be grown year-round in dense, urban areas, along with less dense parts of the region. This, therefore, means that it is possible to find locally grown greens in many communities throughout the fall and sometimes into the winter.
And according to the Environmental Working Group, greens rank as several of the Dirty Dozen produce items with the highest rates of pesticide contamination. Promoting greens that are grown sustainably and locally gives us an opportunity to promote alternative sources of greens that are healthy for workers and consumers.
Greens can also be purchased in inexpensive frozen and canned varieties. All these varieties offer flexibility so that restaurants, schools, retailers, and community members, can all participate in serving and promoting greens as a component of their meals.
Urban gardening organizations have reported that exchanging knowledge and practices about the different varieties of greens grown and eaten by different cultures is one of the main ways that diverse communities of gardeners of all ages and backgrounds interact and learn from each other.
To support events in the area, the BPHC partnered with local farmers markets and organizations like the Boston Area Gleaners Association, the Mattapan ABCD Headstart, Share our Strength’s Shopping Matters, Boston Public Schools, and Shaw’s.
Food Day was celebrated across Boston’s ABCD Head Start programs yesterday and nearly 2,400 students discussed the principles of Food Day in class and were served greens at lunch. At one event, parents at the Mattapan ABCD Headstart were offered more than 140 pounds of kale donated by the Boston Area Gleaners association.
BPHC included a kale smoothie cooking demo, recipes, and information about the benefits of eating greens.
Additionally, Shaw’s, Boston Public Schools, and Fuel up to Play 60 supported the Boston Moves for Health initiative and hosted a special event during the integrative health and fitness program called Workout Wednesdays.
For more information about Food Day, visit www.foodday.org.
Abby Calcutt, MS, MPH, is a Dietetic Intern at the Public Health Commission. Her favorite veggies are artichokes and spinach!