When I first began this blog
Hey there. My name’s Kelly and I’m a senior at American University in Washington, DC, studying Public Communication and Marketing. I’ll be finishing up my undergrad degree in May, and I created this blog as part of an independent study that I am doing on sustainable food production. I also write the health column for my college’s newspaper, and have always been interested in health. I wanted to find a way to combine these different interests, and so I started this blog. The premise is that we must work to change the way we produce food in this country and in the world, because not only are we slowly destroying the planet, we are more immediately chipping away at our health and livelihood. That is basically my blog elevator speech, but if you care to know more about me, please feel free to read the following (very involved) story.
Growing up, I loved to cook and eat–and that hasn’t changed one bit. When I was thirteen, I stopped eating all meat, and eventually became a vegan, then a vegetarian again and then eventually a pescetarian, which is what I am currently. I eat mostly grains, fruit, veggies, eggs, nuts, soy, and some dairy, and I also occasionally eat seafood—usually once or twice a month. Throughout all this time, the major motivating factor for any and all dietary decisions or exclusions I made was based on health reasons. I thought it was great I could support my health and save animals at the same time, but mostly I just cared about my health.
Lots of fluctuations in my health and weight have occurred throughout my short life—a testament to the power food has. I have gone from being overweight in late middle school to then too underweight when I was about 16, and eventually back to a healthy place in the past year or two. I still have days when I eat things that aren’t good for me. But I’ve begun to recognize that when I eat with a balance of pleasure and mindfulness, I tend to fall into a healthy groove in other areas—exercise, sleep patterns, relationships, etc.
But back to the blog. Around the time I was a sophomore in college, I started occasionally going to farmers markets. I saw An Inconvenient Truth for the first time, and I began to start to think about environmental issues. I read the book Cradle to Cradle (highly recommended.) I became more conscious of plastic bag and bottled water waste. I made small adjustments to how I lived with regards to these kinds of things, but I never really made any huge changes or attempted to dive into the issue very far.
Then, during my spring semester of junior year, I travelled abroad to Australia. Being in Australia was refreshing. Australia is a very young country, and in that sense they are able to develop and innovate with an advantage. They can see what’s been done elsewhere and know what works and what doesn’t. Also, Australia has a lot to protect when it comes to the environment. On my first week there, I went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. Seeing all of the creatures coexisting in their own world, was the first of many visually stunning experiences I had while abroad.
Later on, while travelling in New Zealand on a weeklong holiday, I had another moving experience when I climbed Fox Glacier. I saw first-hand how far the glacier has receded over the past 100 years. Global warming, glaciers, Al Gore, those drowning polar bears—everything sort of clicked into place for me then. Everything just felt really true and real.
About a month later, I stopped in Fiji on my way home. On the island of Waya Lai Lai, I ended up diving some more and getting my open-water certification. It’s hard to articulate, but there’s something about being underwater in a completely new world of living things that makes you feel responsible and cognizant of your actions. We go on living in our bubble up on land, while they go on living underwater, but really, no one is in a bubble. We’re all connected. What we do eventually disrupts all kinds of ecosystems.
All the conversations I had with the Fijian villagers solidified in my mind what I knew all along, heading back home after my study abroad trip. I didn’t travel overseas just to have a blast and see the world—I was supposed to take away something more. And I did.
In the fall of my senior year, I took a course called “Practical Environmentalism” with Dr. Terry Sankar, hoping to learn more. The class blew me away for two reasons. For one, before the class began, I had no idea how ignorant I was about matters of sustainability and the environment, so I had a lot to learn in a short period. And two, I learned that our planet is literally in peril. Not like, one day we could be in peril, but currently, we are in peril. I plan to have a child or two of my own on some distant day, but I can’t really imagine bringing more people into a world of peril and at least not be actively trying to do good and chip away at that peril. Anyhow, we covered a lot of areas in the class, but the one that drew me in most was the topic of agriculture. More and more, it appeared to me how dire our global food crisis is and I wanted to learn more about it and what solutions exist or could exist. So I designed an independent study with Dr. Sankar to investigate this.
Which brings me back to food. Throughout my short life thus far, I have eaten thinking entirely of myself—“What will fill me up with the least amount of calories? What will satisfy my sweet tooth? What has the most protein or fiber?“ Lately, I have tried to expand my mind beyond this to questions of, “What exactly is in this food? Is it genetically modified and laden with preservatives, artificial hormones, and antibiotics? What did this salmon have to experience before it made it into my sushi?”
I now intern at Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy nonprofit that strives to protect our essential resources by informing the public about what we eat and drink. We work with grassroots organizations around the world to create an economically and environmentally viable future and advocate policies that guarantee safe, wholesome food produced in a humane and sustainable manner. I love it there. I love learning more about all the issues around the world–and there are many. Mostly, I just love knowing I am on the good side, the side that hopefully will one day be the winning side.
In my health column I have touched on some of these topics of mindful eating and environmental concern. I hope that this blog will serve as a more expansive way to bring these areas together, because I think they are inextricably connected—considering how overweight and unhealthy the world has gotten over the past 50 years while our food system has become more and more crippled.
I think it is important to eat food you enjoy. But I think it is possible, and indeed easier to do this if you know what you are eating and where it came from and how it got to your plate. Which is why I believe sustaining our bodies with good food goes hand in hand with sustaining our planet with good behaviors.