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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

Hoosier Citizens Exemplify Food Democracy in Action

The Indianapolis community of businesses and individuals is making significant strides toward food democracy—building a sustainable food system that protects our natural environment, sustains farmers and nourishes families. Activities include more backyard and community gardens; initiatives to educate and feed our children; organic farms; and lobbying efforts for labeling non-GMO foods.

Democratizing our food system will require efforts by everyone, with a unified voice and focus in demanding change. A firm stance or protest doesn’t necessarily mean congregating in large groups at the statehouse. It also means voting with your dollars and presence by supporting organizations, events and activities that promote local agriculture and food production. Healthy, accessible, affordable food is on the horizon if we all work together. Read on to hear how fellow Hoosiers are taking back their food freedom, and offering us more choices as well.

“Our family has been on a journey of discovering what real food is and how eating right makes a huge difference in our lives. We started a raised bed garden three years ago, growing several types of vegetables, including tomatoes, carrots, peppers, beets, herbs, peas and cucumbers. Through our garden, we have been able to teach our kids the origins of food, literally eat the fruits of our labor, and share with our neighbors. What started as a hobby has turned into a great joy for our family as we learn, build community, and fill our bodies with the best local food around... our own!” ~ Melissa Doll, Fishers, backyard raised bed gardener

“With a mission to create opportunities for and value to the community through local, healthy year-round food production, Sustainable Local Foods (SLF) Indiana constructs hydroponic, environmentally controlled growing units within existing buildings in the city. Our organization uses LED lighting and alternative energy for conservation and economic cost efficiencies. We believe that healthy food should be grown in the community, for the community and by members of community—and that having a healthy, sustainable food supply creates both economic and physical health for the community.” ~ Jim Bloom, Sustainable Local Foods – Indiana

“Ezra’s was created to provide non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, organic and vibrant food to the community. We also provide educational opportunities through classes, events, speakers and more. We partner with local farmers and artisans, many picking the veggies and fruits the day of or day before delivery. We believe in the power of community and in providing food and experiences that are healing to the customer, the community and the planet.” ~Audrey Barron, owner of Ezra’s Enlightened Café and Be Bliss LLC

“Pogue’s Run Grocer is unique from other co-ops in that we deliberately chose to be located in a very diverse and economically challenged neighborhood that includes moderate- to low-income housing. We strive to create a place where people can not only have access to good, healthy and natural foods, but also gather and have a sense of community. We do our best to offer as much locally grown produce as possible because it is fresher, healthier, has a smaller ecological footprint, supports our local economy, and allows us to have a closer connection with our food. It’s also what our coop members want. We can’t imagine doing business any other way.” ~Nate Roberts, general manager of Pogue’s Run Grocer

“My passion for healthy and sustainable living began years ago when I read a book about healing disease with healthy eating. My main takeaway was that if we take care of the Earth, it gives us everything we need to take care of ourselves. Sharing tips on protecting our environment through our food choices is my creative outlet for coping with the challenges I see in our society. If I can help one person learn a new habit that is good for their health and the health of the planet, then I am fulfilled.” ~ Renee Sweany, Ask Renee, a green living advice column; special projects manager, Hoosier Environmental Council

“It’s possible to raise food in a manner that’s gentle on the land and healthy for those that live nearby. Sustainable farming practices preserve our water and soil resources and leave the land productive for future generations. That’s why sustainable agriculture is one of the top priorities for the Hoosier Environmental Council.” ~ Indra Frank, M.D., MPH, environmental health project director, Hoosier Environmental Council

“I hear a lot of people say that they have a black thumb, as opposed to a green thumb, meaning they think every plant they touch dies, and, therefore, they couldn’t possibly grow their own food. Caring for plants, like every other skill, is learned. We need local farmers and urban homesteaders more than ever. We don’t just install raised beds and residential food gardens. We also teach our clients how to maintain them, because there is no safer or more satisfying food than the food you raise yourself.” ~ Lanette Erby, Greenscape Geeks, LLC

“Our organization connects farmers with restaurants, and educates consumers about local food. Our event, Dig IN: Taste of Indiana, brings together chefs and farmers from around the state for the only festival in the country that pays for all the ingredients and coordinates their delivery to the restaurant. This ensures that the farmers get paid a fare wage and that restaurants don’t have to go bankrupt to participate. Most of all, we know that all the food served is grown in Indiana.” ~ Thom England, culinary program coordinator, Ivy Tech Community College, Central Indiana

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