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Omnivore’s Delight Diet: a one week challenge

The ambitious New England Food Vision sets forth the parameters required to achieve a sustainable and equitable food system in which New England farms and fisheries provide at least 50% of the food needed to feed ourselves by 2060. There are many things that need to shift for this vision to become reality, and one of the key things is that we New Englanders change our diet to one tailored to crops that New England is best able to produce given our soils and climate.

This month a group of local activists, gardeners, scholars and community builders have joined together for a “collective food inquiry” as part of the New England Resilience Training (NERT) network. As part of this inquiry, we have taken a close look at the New England Food Vision’s requirements for establishing a sustainable and equitable regional food system (aka, “50 by 60”). 

To deepen our engagement with the Food Visions requirements, and to further digest its implications, we decided to conduct an experiment and you are welcome to join us: from Thursday September 15 until Wednesday September 21 we commit to eating the Omnivore’s Delight diet, and more importantly, to keeping a food journal, recording what we have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for a week.  This diet includes fewer refined carbohydrates, reduced (and healthier) fats, less red meat, current levels of dairy and egg consumption, more fish, more whole grains, and more fruits and vegetables than the typical diet people consume today.

If these exact dates don’t work for you, you are still welcome to join the challenge for what dates you can as long as you keep your journal, and on September 29th we will come together online to debrief the experience. You can read the details and register for this collective journey here.

The purpose of this challenge is threefold:

  1. We are curious to learn how the Omnivore’s Delight diet differs or overlaps with how we are already eating. (What does it mean for vegetarians? Does it easily fit your cultural preferences? Did you have to give up something you love? Are you already eating this way? And anything else that comes up, the purpose is surfacing our reflections and learnings.)
  2. We are excited to take a rather abstract food vision and make it tangible in our own lives, and to share together in the process of reflection and learning.
  3. We hope our stories that emerge from this Ominvore’s Delight Diet Challenge will help raise awareness among our networks of peers, friends, and relatives about the existence of the New England Food Vision.

To be clear, we do not believe that the New England Food Vision will be implemented through individual consumer choices (although this is part of the change that is needed). We understand that for Food Solutions New England’s core values of democracy, equity, and sustainability to shape a regional food system, change has to occur at political and policy making levels, and that new markets, new patterns of development and land use, and new farmers and food businesses must all come into existence. However, we hope that this diet challenge can be part of sparking the conversations and reflections important for awareness raising and can ripple out to shift values and consciousness.

Ultimately, we are all inspired by the rigorous and comprehensive New England Food Vision and are seeking to be agents of transformation in our towns and dinner tables. We recognize that we are the “low-hanging fruit”, the early adopters who are motivated and eager for change. What will inspire millions of our fellow New Englanders to shift their diets?

To contribute to this collective journey, the Boston Food Forest Coalition, is hosting a workshop this Saturday, September 17th: Moving toward a regional, seasonal and perennial diet. This is an opportunity to meet others to discuss the New England Food Vision, share recipes, and be inspired. On Sunday September 18th, we will be at the Boston Local Food Festival to share again in person about the Omnivore’s Delight Challenge - so if you are in the Boston area and curious to learn more, come find us!

And we would love to hear what you think - share comments and suggestions please!

 

Orion Kriegman is the Director of Boston Food Forest Coalition, a non-profit community land trust for neighborhood “forest gardens”.  These edible public parks engage hundreds of volunteers; host annual harvest festivals and community events; and grow relationships among neighbors, land and food.

Featured image of UMass Amherst Dining courtesy of the Kendall Foundation.