Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Families Have Been Found!

News Flash! We have found our families! Wait...what do you mean "families"? Well, yes, there were so many great choices that I decided to go with two. If one is great, isn't two even better? Isn't this America? Actually, I thought that going this route would give us all a little wiggle room and ensure that if one family had to drop out for some reason we could still keep the project going.

So, who are these "ready, willing and able" volunteers? Both families have kids and believe they are spending too much money eating out and buying processed foods that they don't feel great about. They both try to buy healthier versions of easy-to-fix meals, but also feel they are still missing the mark there. Both have the same issue of coming home tired and not having the energy to pull together a quick, delicious and nourishing meal. At the same time, both families have also tried their hand at some gardening. Each family has an awareness that a change to a more organic and seasonal diet would be an improvement and each has made a few steps in the right direction, but they aren't so far down the path yet that they wouldn't make great candidates for the project. All of the kids (including mine) are in the right age range to play and work together. Lastly, I believe we have some excellent writers in the group who are quite willing to share all they have learned, a definite plus that I was looking for!

Some of these families' challenges may sound familiar: what to cook during the winter season, especially when it comes to winter vegetables, or wanting to know what to pack for school lunches that would be healthier and still acceptable to the kids. I think it best, though, to let them tell you more in their own words about where they feel they are right now. They will, after all, be regular contributors to the blog, either through posts or comments.

Ironically, the families chosen were the first two that responded to me; one via e-mail and the other via a phone call through my friend Ashley. The fact that we all live within my 5 mile zone of comfort (my friend Amy says it's really 3 miles and who am I kidding) is just great. This project is about creating community as much as it is about local food economies, organics and scratch cooking. There is no better place to start any venture than your own backyard.

One of the primary goals of this project is to also build resources for everyone in Guilford County and beyond. The issues that were coming up in the family interviews and in the emails I received were that many people are already aware of the ramifications of consuimg a heavily processed food diet and eating out, but were not sure how to start making changes. There was a general feeling of "this is all too much, so I give up!" I want you to know that you don't have to. We will explore every avenue to figure out what works and what doesn't and how you can make changes one small step at a time. And we'll all get to the finish line together!

I am still learning more about blogging and considering the idea of creating a web site in addition to the blog so that all the resources we create can be accessed with ease. I have a line on a possible expert, but we'll see. If anyone knows of someone who wants to do some pro bono work for a good cause, give them this address!

So, on to our families: drumroll please....

The Tilley-Lee's, Tammy and Mike, are both in their mid 40's and have two school age children, a boy and a girl. They are 9 year old twins, Cameron and Emma, and they go to school at Brooks Global. Tammy was raised on a farm and came to Greensboro in 1989 to begin a career in dentistry. Her husband of 15 years, Mike, has been in Greensboro since 1972 and works in the insurance industry - he is one of those great dads who cooks sometimes (just like the other Mike!) One of their challenges is getting dinner on the table after a long day when they feel too tired to prepare something that they feel really good about. They also want to incorporate more variety into their menus. They feel stuck in a rut.

The Richey's, Kim and Mike (yes, two Mikes: that will be interesting!) are a little younger, in their late thirties, early forties and they have one 4 year old daughter named Lily. Kim is a nurse and childbirth educator and works part-time at several venues. Mike works for our great City of Greensboro and works more of a 9 - 5 schedule. They had some challenges with their garden that we will explore later in the year - look for some exciting soil sampling! One of the things they would like to tackle is bringing down their eating out budget and learning to cook from scratch. It sounds like Mike has a bit more experience in the kitchen, but Kim is a willing and eager student - she just needs a teacher.

Again, I can't thank everyone enough for sharing your stories with me. I tried to respond to everyone who wrote to me and I hated that I couldn't work with each of you. Look for updates here and we may even have a web site by the end of the year. Also, look for the monthly update articles in the News and Record. We plan on having our first family group meeting next week, so stay tuned and feel free to comment!
Eat well and be well.

PS - An article on Organic Foods that I co-authored has just been released by the American Dietetic Association.