15 Good Food Habits for 2015

This is not a post offering a miracle diet, I promise. Forget everything you think about what dieting should be. These are strategies to maintain your health and keep you and your family on the right track for 2015. Invest in the good food habits of happiness and health full of fresh, whole, local foods.

“When we start trying to make healthier choices, we discover that many of the choices that are good for our own personal health are also good for the environment, our community, and our local economy. It’s a virtuous cycle. Choosing the right food for our bodies helps the environment and farmers. There’s an incredible ripple effect way beyond just that one choice.” Anna Lappé

What underscores all these strategies is that you will be more aware and conscience of what you eat, it will taste better, the environment will benefit, you will strengthen the local economy, and you will feel great doing it.

1. Eat local! You knew it was coming. Buying directly from farmers and producers at Farmers marketfarmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSAs), and local food businesses keeps your food dollars circulating locally, and farmers get a larger percentage of the dollars you spend than they do when you shop at big box stores. Your health and the environment benefit because local producers usually employ more sustainable practices providing you with more nutrient dense foods. Plus, people that eat locally also tend to eat more fresh vegetables and fruits. Win-win!

2.Get in tune with the seasons. We are fortunate to have extended growing seasonsCitrus marmalade in Arizona, which means increased availability of fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. Foods that are in season are usually cheaper than their unseasonal counterparts, so look for good deals and enjoy the bounty of the season. They will taste better and be fresher, too. You can savor the seasons by buying in bulk and preserving for later. Try freezing fruits and canning tomatoes in the summer and pickling cabbage and making citrus marmalade in the winter.

3.Include variety in your meals. There’s no Veg rainbowneed to take supplements when you are naturally getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from a balanced and varied diet. Find many colors of the rainbow in your fruits and vegetables and your body will thank you.

4.Forget the old food pyramid, and fill half your plate with veggies and fruits. It’s Fill your plate with vega good strategy that doesn’t require much calculation. By default you’ll be eating less of the bad stuff high in fat, sugar, and salt while at the same time loading up on more nutritious foods. You’ll be sure to get the recommended five servings of vegetables and counting calories will be obsolete.

5.Switch to whole grains. The difference between white flour, white rice, whole Whole grainswheat, and brown rice is fiber. Fiber is the key to maintaining  your waistline. Processed grains are long strings of sugars and as soon as they enter your body they are broken down into smaller parts flooding your bloodstream and triggering an insulin reaction. It’s as if you were eating bowls of sugar. Whole grains contain fiber that slow down the digestion process so those sugars (energy) is released over time. Try new whole grains like quinoa and rye berries in addition to your whole grain pasta and brown rice.

6.Include healthy fats and proteins in your diet. Your body needs fats and proteins Legumesto help you feel full and satisfied. Include  things like beans, peas, lentils, and other legumes, wild caught fish or shellfish, lean beef or pork, chicken or turkey, plain yogurt, eggs (limit to no more than two per day to avoid consuming unwanted cholesterol), game meats (venison, bison, rabbit), raw nuts and seeds (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds), and healthy fats found in olive oil, avocado, and salmon.Healthy breakfast

7.Always eat breakfast. Breakfast is the ignition to light your metabolism on fire each new day. When you skip breakfast, you are signaling to your body there is a food shortage and it should hold on to all the calories you eat the rest of the day. Try filling whole grains like oatmeal or granola topped with protein rich plain yogurt and delicious fruits, nuts, and seeds.

8.Snack smarter. Snacks can tide you over from one Green smoothiemeal to the next so be sure you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand before the cravings strike. Enjoy snacks that include fresh fruits and vegetables paired with protein, healthy fats, or whole grain. Hummus with carrots, cucumber, or broccoli is always a good choice. For your sweet tooth try dried cherries, almonds, and dark chocolate chips or fresh dates stuffed with almond butter and unsweetened coconut. Other good options include mango, jicama, or avocado with lime, chile and a bit of sea salt or whole wheat crackers with cheddar cheese and apple slices. Fruit and veggie smoothies are also a great option and will help you reach your recommended serving goal for the day.

9.Try fruit for dessert. There’s Baked applesno need to skip everyone’s favorite part of the meal. Experiment with fruit based desserts that are low in added sugars. Fruit can be quite complex when poached, grilled, baked, or broiled and paired with spices, nuts, dark chocolate, or fresh cream. Get creative! And for your health and happiness indulge in the good stuff.

Infused water10.Ditch the soda and go for water instead. Sodas, teas, and juices are loaded with unnecessary sugars that your body inadvertently stores as fat. Instead drink plenty of water, and if you are looking for excitement infuse your water with fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs. Some good combinations include cucumber and mint, lemon and strawberry, or ginger and lime.

11.Cut down on processed foods that contain hidden sugar, refined grains, artificial ingredients, and trans fats. Astonishingly, processed foods make up 70% of the average U.S. consumer’s diet. Focus more on foods you can pronounce and recognize. If it ends in -ose or is a syrup, it’s most likely sugar in disguise! Food labelEx: fructose, maltose, glucose, lactose, brown rice syrup, malt syrup, corn syrup, etc.

12.Read food labels to know what you’re eating. Labels can be tricky, so it’s best to eat foods that don’t contain labels. What’s in an apple? Well, apple, of course! But we all have busy lives, and that necessitates convenience sometimes. So have a look at the ingredients list. If the first ingredient is sugar or enriched wheat, it’s likely that the item has little nutritional value.

13.Cook more, eat out less. Cooking can take some getting used to, but it doesn’t have to be fancy gourmet meals everyday. There are plenty of resources for fast, simple cooking at the click of a mCooking with kidsouse. Rest assured that pretty much anything you cook at home will be better for you than the prepared or restaurant version because you know exactly what the ingredients are. Involve your children and family in the process to ensure they will try new and healthier foods as well.

14.Plan ahead of time. It only takes a bit of Meal planforesight to be able to have ingredients on hand to whip up a quick and healthy dinner on a busy weeknight. Take the time over the weekend to plan all your meals and snacks ahead to ensure you have all you need to make healthy choices throughout the week. Make a list of dishes to prepare and all the ingredients you need from the store, then when you go shopping only get what’s on the list. You will save time and money in the short- and long-run!

15.Eat meals at the table. Practice all these good food habits with family and friends Dinner tableand return to the table to share your meals. When you sit down to eat, you eat slower and enjoy more. You allow yourself the time to register when you are actually full instead of wolfing down fast food in front of the TV or while driving. Sitting down to a meal also allows you to spend more time with your family and increase communication. Families that eat dinners together also tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and engage less in not so healthy behaviors.

 

Posted in Local Food, Sustainability | Leave a comment

Time to Break Out the Wine

When festivities and good cheer abound, and family and friends are close, it’s time to celebrate. Instead of hitting up those big box liquor stores, stock up at AZ Wine Co., Arizona’s oldest independent wine shop. This friendly wine shop combines a great AZwineselection of wines and craft beers with great customer service and a warm, cheerful neighborhood vibe. AZ Wine Co. also offers a beer garden and a wine bar in the store, where you can enjoy a pint, wines by the glass (and by the bottle), as well as small bites from Atlas Bistro. If you’re looking to mingle with those who can appreciate a good wine, be sure to stop by one of their regular wine tastings, which are posted on their Facebook page and often feature Arizona winemakers. Wine also makes a great last minute gift, and the wonderful staff at AZ Wine Co is happy to help you pick out the best gifts for those you love.  You can also find libations to help you ring in the New Year. And, while you’re there, be sure to pour yourself a glass or two for yourself. Enjoy!

2515 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
480.423.9305
www.facebook.com/pages/AZ-Wine-Company

Posted in Greater Phoenix, LFA Member Spotlight | Leave a comment

Winter in AZ: Community Supported Agriculture

CSA ShareYes, you can find locally grown fruits and veggies during the winter in Arizona! Winter is actually when things like greens, root vegetables, and citrus are at their peak. You can participate in the bounty by joining a CSA, or community supported agriculture program. A CSA is a contractual agreement directly between a farmer and buyer.

The format can vary from paying an upfront fee for a set number of weeks or a season to paying an amount weekly when you decide you would like a share of goods. Items in a CSA might include fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, eggs, meat, poultry, cheese, butter, bread, honey, or even chocolate. CSAs often include recipes in the weekly basket so you know what to do with unfamiliar produce.

When you join a CSA, not only are you receiving the freshest produce in season, you are also tremendously helping your local farmer by sharing the risk that is inherent in farming. When you buy your veggies directly from the farmer, they are getting more of your food dollars than if you were to purchase from a grocery store. That means more local dollars multiplying in your community.

At the same time you are strengthening your local economy, you are also reducing your environmental impact since your food is traveling much less than it normally might. The biggest benefit to participating in a CSA is that you will be trying new veggies and eating healthier!

The following CSAs are proud members of Local First Arizona:

Northern AZ
Yum Yum Produce

Central AZ
Crooked Sky Farm
Gila Farm Cooperative
Maya’s Farm
The Simple Farm
Chow Locally
Blue Sky Organic Farms
Brazen Chocolate

Southern AZ
Lucky Nickel Ranch
Walking J Farm
Barrio Bread

You can find more information about Arizona CSAs on Good Food Finder.

Posted in Agriculture, Arizona, Good Food Finder, Local Food | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

SanTan Brewing Co. Hosts Final 2014 Lunch Mixer

SanTan ChandlerAWIf you haven’t been to Downtown Chandler’s San Tan Brewing Company, you’re missing out. Opened in 2007 by founder and brewmaster, Anthony Canecchia, San Tan Brewing features seven different craft brews, including the award-winning Epicenter Amber Ale.

Throughout the year, the brewery serves seasonal favorites like the Oktoberfest Lager and Mr. Pineapple, which recently was named “2014 Best Local Beer” by Phoenix New Times. In addition to the full scale brewery, San Tan also features their neighborhood brewpub, a popular hang out spot for locals. The brewpub is serving up delicious pub fare favorites seven days a week, as well as Happy Hour Monday – Friday and Reverse Happy Hour Sunday – Thursday.

For our final networking lunch mixer of 2014, San Tan pulled out all the stops for our members, including a delicious buffet of beef brisket, pulled pork, and barbecue pork sliders; pub and caesar salad, as well as their incredible chip and dip trio with guacamole all made in-house.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.11.56 PMThe building is incredible as well. San Tan has transformed the space into a spacious brew pub with a full-size commercial brewery located in the back warehouse. The back part of the warehouse hosts an array of events, including rehearsal dinners, graduations, birthdays, retirement parties and even networking events! We want to thank the staff at San Tan Brewing and Derek for making our last lunch mixer a great success! For more information, or to reserve your next party with San Tan, contact Derek Hanson at Derek@santanbrewing.com.

Join us again in 2015 as we head to Los Compadres on January 7th, click here for more details and to reserve your spot!

IMG_8690Thank you for all those in attendance:

-2UTire & Wheel
-A2Z Home Cleaners
-Aegis Wealth Partners, LLC
-American Collision Center Inc
-Antrim Air, Inc
-Arizona Brewery Tours 
-AZ Fine Swine Mangalista
-AZ Strong
-Community Tire Pros & Auto RepairSustaining Member
-Create the Space Professional Organizing
-Crexendo – Sustaining Member
-D-Mak Productions
-Desert Palms Carpet
and Janitorial Services

-Element Plumbing Services 
-Gateway Bank
-Hi-Tech Car Care
-MARC Architecture
-Reliance First Realty
-Sage Payment Solutions
-SanTan Brewing Company
-Sibley’s West
-Soul Purpose Network/Be Well Empowerment Events
-Tellari
-TrueRoots Development

Posted in Greater Phoenix, Local First Movement, Restaurants & Dining | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Source AZ: How Clean Air Cab is Switching From National to Local

Local First Arizona recently spent timClean Air Cab & LFAe working with locally owned taxi company, Clean Air Cab, on a pilot program called Source AZ, which studies the procurement practices of LFA members. Our collective goals were to find out how many Arizona owned businesses Clean Air Cab supported, and find areas where they could shift a percentage of their sourcing from national to local companies.

The first step was for Clean Air Cab to outline the companies they procure from – everything from office supplies, auto repair, cleaning supplies and coffee. LFA staff analyzed which companies were based in Arizona and which were based outside the state, calculating that Clean Air Cab is sourcing an impressive 83% of their goods and services from Arizona owned companies. Clean Air Cab selected five industries that they would consider moving from national to local, and together we started researching local options. Here is what we found in each industry.

Banking:
Clean Air Cab has been using Wells Fargo, based in California, for their business banking needs. The decision to move to a local bank was due to a considerable amount of fees charged and a high staff turnover at the bank.
Roadblocks: Being close to a bank branch is important for Clean Air Cab. They also are thinking through the amount of work it would take to reset bill pay and the administrative work involved in moving to a new bank.
End result: Work in progress. Clean Air Cab met with several local banks and is excited about the prospect of banking locally. The banks addressed the issue of the administrative labor by advising Clean Air Cab to gradually transition over, and that it would take a couple months to get things squared away. Clean Air Cab is seriously considering switching to a local bank in the coming months.

Recycling/Waste disposal:
Clean Air Cab has been using Waste Management, based in Texas.
Roadblocks: Waste Management’s contract is long term & can be tricky to get out of.
End result: Success! It was easy for Clean Air Cab to switch to Sonoran Waste Disposal as their contract with Waste Management was almost up. An added bonus is they are spending almost half as much with this locally owned company.

Coffee Supplies:
Clean Air Cab has been using Costco, based in Washington, for their coffee.
Roadblocks: Cost
End result: Not switching at this time. Clean Air Cab has been purchasing from Costco based on the low price and after doing some research, we found that it was hard to beat their price.

Payroll Services:
Clean Air Cab is using ADP, a payroll company based in New Jersey.
Roadblocks: Cost & amenities
End result: Not shifting at this time. Clean Air Cab has significant needs from their payroll company. After meeting with several local companies, they found that both could offer the same services as ADP, however there was some cost increase, mainly due to the cost of background checks which Clean Air Cab does frequently.

Office Furniture:
Clean Air Cab is currently using IKEA for office chairs, based in Netherlands.
Roadblocks: Cost
End result: Success! Clean Air Cab is able to purchase office furnishings at a comparable price with added benefit of saving items from the landfill. They also will be looking into preowned office furnishings when they move into their new offices.

Clean Air Cab shifted to two locally owned LocalSourcingLogo-CleanAirCab84-01companies, and bumped their local sourcing up to 84%. The project was rewarding and eye opening for both Clean Air Cab and Local First Arizona. Clean Air Cab Director of Operations Brandy Lovato provided feedback about her experience with the Source AZ project:

“I loved this project and loved working with other local businesses to see what we could move over to local.  I think if a company did not have a lot of local vendors to begin with this would be an easy project but since we are already sourcing local at 83%, it is a little harder because those pieces to move over are big items such as banking, payroll, etc.  The easiest was the supplies, chairs, and the little things.  I feel like you get more of a personal service with the local companies as opposed to a huge corporation that as a business you really have no connection with.  I know that we are spending less money by doing business with the local companies.  This could have been done without the help of LFA BUT it would have taken forever.  Their help and connections for each category made things simple to contact people and set up meetings.  I would encourage all businesses to look at their business spending and make at least a 10% shift.  If our little company can have 83% of our business with local vendors I challenge all others to at least do 10%!!!”

This video highlights several of Clean Air Cab's many local service providers.

This video highlights several of Clean Air Cab’s many local service providers.

Takeaways & tips from LFA:

  • Analyzing Clean Air Cab’s local versus non-local spending was really interesting. We knew Clean Air Cab was consciously using locally owned businesses before we started this project, but it was great to come up with an actual number. This is an area that businesses usually don’t measure, so it was an “a-ha” moment for Clean Air Cab as well, and something they are very proud of.
  • There are some areas where there are not local options. Clean Air Cab uses technology for cab fare calculation etc. that cannot be sourced from an Arizona company.
  • It’s smart to meet with several different local companies. Our goal was to meet with three potential vendors in an industry before making a decision.
  • If the cost is too high, ask your local service providers to work with you. Sometimes they can get a price closer to what you want. It is important to understand that in some cases national companies and big box stores’ prices cannot be beat, as they have deals with manufacturers and distributors that a local company does not. When looking to switch to a new company, consider factors other than just going with the cheapest, and think through the type of company you want to support.
  • Don’t assume local is more expensive. Clean Air Cab is saving a significant amount by switching their recycling and trash disposal to a local company. They are also saving money and keeping items out of the landfill by sourcing from the ASU Surplus store verses Ikea.
  • Moving one or two high dollar accounts could have a big impact. When analyzing your purchasing, look at the non-local companies that you are spending the most money with and start there if you can.
  • Have an office Localist. Clean Air Cab believes heavily in supporting their local community and their Director of Operations was excited to work on this project. Having someone in your place of business that is passionate about supporting local businesses and can devote time to a project like this is important.
  • Be excited and shout about your local sourcing! By switching to a local vendor or service provider you are keeping up to 3 times more dollars in Arizona. Your decision to shift to local provides higher quality jobs, and a more vibrant community. You build relationships rather than make someone in another state richer. Include information about your local sourcing in your marketing materials, sales kits and brag to your social media followers.
  • Interested in going through the Source AZ program? Watch our video and email helene@localfirstaz.com for more info.

Source AZ video

Posted in Arizona, Excellence in Localism, Local Business Tips, Local First Movement, Source AZ | Leave a comment

Southwestern Flair

Deck the Christmas tree this year with hand painted Southwestern flair. Southwest Ornaments, handmade by Brenda Schodt, are breathlessly beautiful ornaments to add to SWornamentyour expanding collection of tree goodies. With a passion for painting and a love for the beautiful desert sky, Schodt began by making gifts for her family and friends, then she and her husband Rick later expanded their horizons and made the leap, offering her ornaments to the public. Her ornaments can be seen throughout the Valley, such as at the Festival of Trees event to benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and at Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden. Recently, the husband and wife duo  collaborated with the Collegiate Licensing Company and are now offering officially licensed ornaments for the Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University. Visit their website at www.southwestornaments.com to get your very own hand painted ornament with the charm of our lovely desert landscape or one with your college alma mater logo. They also make great gifts!

This member spotlight is written by Somlynn Rorie.

 

Posted in Arizona, LFA Member Spotlight | Leave a comment

“But it’s just boilerplate…” Why Those Form Provisions Matter

AFL Full Logo 031813This piece of legal advice for local businesses is brought to you by Arizona’s Finest Lawyers. Learn more about their organization at www.azfinestlawyers.org


“Legal mumbo jumbo” that’s what one of my clients calls most of the non-deal points of the agreements I work with him on.  After we gleefully dance through all the fun business stuff – you know, the things that make entrepreneurs light up – we invariably come to the buzz kill part of the meeting, where we have to talk about indemnity and survival periods. I hate to see his enthusiasm die, but even he knows these “boring” parts of each contract matter. They matter because when something goes wrong, that is the first place your lawyer, or the other party’s lawyer, is going check to assess your rights. This article looks at five “form” or “boilerplate” provisions you overlook at your own peril.

  1. Indemnity and Insurance. These two provisions really go hand in hand. Simply put, an indemnity provision allows one party to seek reimbursement for money it is forced to pay to a third party as a result of an injury caused by the other party to a contract. Insurance is one way for you to know if the other party has the means to defend a lawsuit or pay a judgment. If there is no insurance to cover the risk, well, that means that promise of indemnification is worth very little. Generally, I advise my clients that indemnity clauses should run both ways. Meaning, you should be willing to cover any mistake your business makes in the course of a relationship and the other party should be willing to cover any mistake it makes. Push back hard if the contract makes your business responsible for the other business’ actions or omissions. Intellectual property rights should be separately indemnified. On the insurance front, make sure the contract covers the different types of coverage needed (CG & L, professional liability, driver policies, etc.). You can – and should – ask to be added as an additional insured onto the other party’s policy.

  2. Alternative Dispute Resolution. I am a big believer in alternative dispute resolution. In fact, all the contracts I draft for clients use a three tier approach: (1) informal resolution at the business level first; (2) mandatory early mediation next; and (3) arbitration or litigation only after (1) and (2) have been exhausted. You can carve out certain claims that allow you to seek injunctive relief if necessary.  That is critical when you are dealing with intellectual property.  You want to get in court fast before damage is done to your R&D, brand or product.

  3. Choice of Law/Choice of Venue. There is a reason that lawyers go to the mat on this. Typically buried in the back of the contract, this section lets a business know ahead of time which state’s law applies in the event of a dispute. Additionally, it may also set where that dispute is heard. For example, if you are an Arizona-based business, there is very little reason to allow a choice of law elsewhere. Not only would this increase your costs in the event of a dispute, but it also increases legal uncertainty. Sometimes parties compromise on a neutral location so no one has what is referred to as a “home court” advantage. Each state has a unique set of laws, so your best bet is to stay where you live.

  4. Termination. A termination provision sets out how the parties “unhook.” The more specific you can make this, the better….that way there is no confusion. Also, if you have given the other party “rights” to intellectual property during the term of the contract, spell out what happens when the relationship is over. Typically, for example the use of trademarks should cease immediately.

  5. Assignment/Modification/Integration. Do you want to be able to assign the contract in the event of a sale of your company—or to help facilitate a corporate reorganization? Many contracts have a blanket prohibition on assignment so that you could not take these steps automatically. The same goes for modification of the agreement. Typically, contracts require any change (modification) to be in writing. Finally, it is prudent to make sure that the contract specifically incorporates all the separate schedules as part of the agreement, and that oral negotiations are trumped by the writing.

One other tip. Invest in your own template contracts if you can, and require that your forms are used. You retain more control over your own processes when you use your own forms. The bigger the company you are dealing with, the more pushback you will receive, but it never hurts to ask. 


Juliet HeadshotAs a former in-house counsel, Juliet Peters provides a broad range of practical, solution-based advice that assists clients in cost effectively meeting their business objectives. Framework Legal, PLLC. Real Solutions. Real Value.

Posted in Legal, Local Business Tips | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Get your Santa on at Main Gate Square

SantaCrawlFB_2-4-300x92Friday December 19th, the merchants of Main Gate Square will host a fun Santa Crawl to benefit Ben’s Bells from 7pm – 10pm. Main Gate Square is a pedestrian-friendly dining and shopping destination near the University of Arizona that is home to many locally owned businesses.  Main Gate aims to spread holiday cheer in a way that brings out the magical and absurd side of the holiday season. “Santa Crawl was inspired by SantaCons that have been successfully held throughout the U.S. each holiday season” says Main Gate general manager, Jane McCollum.

Main Gate invites folks to come down dressed like Santa (or an elf, a menorah, a tree or a chicken) and is awarding prizes for best costumes including $200 cash, $150 gift card to Pitaya and many, many more. Don’t have a costume to wear? Come on down to the event and be transformed by 2 EE the Elf who will provide balloon hats and face painting.  Be sure to stop next to the Santa’s sleigh and have a picture taken. Those in attendance are expected to bring their very best ho-ho-ho holiday cheer and to be kind. The fun starts at Geronimo Plaza with a Santa Sing- A-Long led by the George Howard Band.

6510Special wristbands will be available for sale at the event for only $5 each with all funds raised going to Ben’s Bells, an organization that works to inspire, educate and motivate people to realize the impact of intentional kindness. The wristbands entitle wearers to great specials and discounts at participating merchants and are available for sale at Gentle Ben’s, Auld Dubliner, Pasco Kitchen & Lounge, Fuku Sushi, Posner’s Art Store, Ooo! Outside of Ordinary. In addition to providing discounts and specials, McCollum notes that “Many establishments are also giving a percentage of their sales that night to local nonprofits including the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Casa de los Ninos, and Youth on Their Own.” The event is a non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and non-sensical Santa Claus convention. Come join the fun and help great causes this holiday season.  For more information about the event, visit the Main Gate website.

Posted in Buy Local Week, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cristy’s Real Food Journey

If you ask, you will find that people who truly care about the food they eat always have a story. Because our culture has largely de-emphasized the connection between food and health over the last few decades, many people will go their entire lives never thinking about the effect their food has on their bodies, and will proceed with consuming possibly toxic, nutrient-sparse food day after day. To highlight these stories, we’ve created this series on the Real Food Journey, to tell those stories of how and why we began to shift our own diets. 

Here’s the Real Food Journey of our ’14 Fall Semester Local Food Intern, Cristy Courtney: 

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 8.43.25 PMFrom a teenager to a college student, I ate how probably most do. There were lots of trips to fast food chains, and mindlessly handing over my money to these corporations. I had no idea where my food truly came from, or the processes from which it was produced—which now I am thinking I probably don’t want to know too much about the fast food processes anyways. In the past three years I have made great strides in my perception about food, real food. “Real Food is food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth. It is a food system–from seed to plate–that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability” [REF] This is my real food journey.

Thinking back about what started my journey, I would honestly have to say it was my “freshman fifteen”, or the weight you seem to put on in college. My journey started out with wanting to get fit, and trim a little weight. After never really being concerned about the food I put into my body, eating healthy was quite the different concept for me. So, I got really into exercising, lifting weights, and healthy eating. This was the first time I made the connection that what I ate was either helping or hindering my success with exercising. Once I got the hang of healthy food paired with exercising, I made the connection with how great I felt. I looked better, felt better, and was actually living a new lifestyle. This new lifestyle was completely opposite of how I had ever lived, and one that I was extremely proud of.

coconinoIn the meantime of this great lifestyle change, I was going to college. I had recently finished up my Associates degree in Flagstaff, AZ, which had an emphasis towards sustainable green building. I was very interested in sustainability, but at a novice level. The next part of my real food journey began when I started my Public Service and Public Policy in Sustainability Bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University. My first semester introduced me to the food system as a major concept of sustainability.

My eyes were opened to such a significant problem. So many natural (and limited) resources are going into the production, and distribution processes of food. Not to mention our fruits, vegetables, and meats are saturated with pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics. Marketing and convenience lay in the hands of fast food chains, because they provide food that is cheap and convenient. I learned about GMOs vs. Organic. I mean this realization was heavy. I was putting this stuff into my body since I could eat solid food. How awful that I had no say or education about the food I was eating. However, it wasn’t until I watched this Ted Talk in one of my classes that I went to the next part of my real food journey.

64c5197f454fb8c389d30e5b01f3bcfe587f7ed4_1600x1200The Ted Talk about being a weekday vegetarian gave me the challenge I needed to reduce my meat consumption by a lot. A majority of meat production is inhumane, bad for the environment, and can have negative effects on your health. However, it gave me the concept of eating meat as a luxury or treat. I didn’t have to completely cut it out, but I could do my part by reducing my consumption, and the support of the inhumane treatment of animals. It was in the same class that I touched on food systems, and the pairing of local and sustainability.

So, again there I was making another connection. I am eating healthier, and exercising, but now I need to eat real food. I need to be conscious of the food I am putting into my body, and by that I mean I need to know where it comes from and how it was produced. I did not want any of those pollutants in my body, especially because of someone else. It was in this time of my life I realized food was my passion. I loved so many things about food that I wanted to make it the emphasis in my sustainability and policy degree. I wanted to learn more about the food system, and how to make a change in the quality of life for humans, animals, and the environment.

PrintIt just so happened that I came across an internship at Local First Arizona in the local foods system’s department. “Local First Arizona empowers individuals to build the life they want in their local community. Together we can create a stronger economy, a more vibrant community, and better job opportunities for Arizonans” [REF]. Here was my chance to fulfill the missing piece of my journey and learn about being local, and not to mention an amazing opportunity to learn about local food systems. I was a very lucky candidate, and was offered the position.

Through my internship experience I was opened to the concept of local farms, local producers, and local consumers. I learned about the connections of seed to plate, the impact it made on society, and how it can lead to a healthy lifestyle. I realized that all along, I was searching for the meaning of real food, and through my internship I found it. It was the last connection I needed through my journey. Eating healthy with food that I knew where it came from and how it was produced meant eating locally! A local food system is by far the healthiest and sustainable you can get.

10260025_842510575813142_4917241647579634588_nWhat real food means to me is a whole lifestyle: knowing where your food comes from, contributing to the success of local farmers who care about the food they produce, creating a local system that benefits a community, helping the environment, and making those choices as the consumer. My real food journey happened over a few years, but has shaped me into the person I am today. I love the lifestyle I live, and am an advocate for the desperate need of change in our food systems. I dream of a day where everyone has the ability to know where their food comes from, how their food was produced, know if it is free of pollutants and the inhumane treatment of animals. There is such an appreciative feeling of meeting the person who grows and/or producers your food. A teacher once said something to me that I will never forget, “not knowing where your food comes from is like accepting food from a stranger. Would you accept food from a stranger?”

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Explore Northern Arizona Dining

Everyone should experience a little taste of northern Arizona. This unique, rural part of Arizona offers some of the most diverse and delicious dining options available. Whether you are craving local wines, grilled specialties, or a strong cup of coffee the restaurants in the Verde Valley have you covered. Check them out and plan a trip up north, you will be happy you did!

The Horn: Stop by, kick back, relax and be a part of western history at the horn saloon.

Verde Brewing Co.: A farm-to-mug to creating local, craft beer.

10-12 Lounge: An upscale lounge for those who would like to enjoy a drink, some entertainment and a pleasant atmosphere.wine

Chateau Tumbleweed: Wines reflecting the wonderful possibilities of high desert grapes in Arizona’s soils.

Four Eight Wineworks: Northern Arizona’s first wine makers co-operative and tasting room.

Su Casa: Clarkdale’s best Mexican food.

Alcantara Vineyard & Winery: The first winery on the Verde River.

Arizona Stronghold Vineyards: Relax in the tasting room while enjoying some of the finest handcrafted wine that Arizona has to offer.

Burning Tree Cellars: Specializing in small batch, meticulously maintained boutique wines.

Crema Cafe:crema Fresh, simple & local. Breakfast & Lunch. Espresso. & Gelato.

Fire Mountain Wines: Wines inspired by emotion and our spiritual connectivity to the land.

Nic’s Italian Steak & Crab House: Savor this clubby atmosphere over shrimp scampi, a fine steak or steamed muscles.

Pillsbury Wine Co.: 100% award winning high altitude Arizona wine.

The Tavern Grille: Wide range of menu items featured daily. Asian-spiced pork potstickers, prime rib sliders, coconut shrimp, filet mignon chili, and daily homemade soups and salads.

Caduceus Cellars: Featuring wines from the desert, preserves, jams, & herbs.

Hilltop Deli: Delicious sandwiches, lettuce wraps, soup & haunted-hamburgersalads. Soda Bar with huge selection of retro sodas.

The Haunted Hamburger: Sit back & enjoy a mouthwatering burger & famous margarita. The experience will have you dying for more.

Page Springs Cellars: family owned winery and vineyard tucked into the volcanic landscape overlooking pristine Oak Creek.

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