Getting people to eat healthy foods can be a challenge, especially if they are picky eaters or if they have been eating unhealthy foods for most of their life. As the person in charge of feeding your family, you may be looking for ways to improve the diets of the ones you love. Without switching to feeding everyone nothing but celery and wheat germ, there are plenty of ways you can improve the diets of your family members. Begin by making sure you have a place to keep the healthy foods you buy from the supermarket and elsewhere. You should have an organized, clean pantry cabinet that offers plenty of kitchen pantry storage. Buying things in bulk can help you save and provide you with healthy alternatives at the last-minute. Be sure to stock up on safe food containers that allow you to keep foods fresh.
Next, fill up your refrigerator with plenty of fruits and vegetables that are in-season. Buying in-season foods increases the likelihood you are getting foods from nearby farms, which cuts down on the travel and the chance of getting contaminated foods. In-season foods are fresher when they arrive at your house and therefore higher in nutrients and vitamins. It is even better if you know where the fruits and vegetables were grown, allowing you to speak with the farmer and understand what he or she does during the growing and harvesting process.
There is no fresher option than growing your own, so if you are really concerned about what your family is eating, consider starting a garden. They are time-consuming and growing fruits and vegetables can be back-breaking work. However, if you are willing to commit to growing your own food, it will boost the health of each of your meals and it will save you money. Not everyone has the ability, space, or time to do this, so consider joining a farm co-op that allows you to have baskets of fresh vegetables and fruits delivered from another member’s garden each week. If you have time to grow only one type of food, consider being part of a food exchange.
Some things you have to purchase outside of the home, so when choosing proteins like meat and poultry, consider shopping for local, free-range products. Again, this gives you the opportunity to get to know the farmer and be familiar with the lifestyles of the animals you are eating. There are health advantages to choosing chickens and cows who have led comfortable lives over those who are mass-produced. Buying local, free-range meat and poultry is becoming more and more common, leading to more reasonable prices at your local market.
Finally, one of the easiest ways to help your family eat a healthier diet is to encourage sampling new foods. Make eating an adventure for kids and help them determine which foods they like. Eating nothing but junk deadens the palette, so the more foods you try, the more you will develop a taste for a well-balanced diet. Not everything needs to be health food either. Have kids try different types of sugary foods to determine which they like best, and which is worth splurging for.
Stewart Wrighter recently purchased a beautiful pantry cabinet for his remodeled kitchen. He added a kitchen pantry storage unit in his daughter’s kitchen.
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Image by D.C.Atty Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All or none of them could be true. For whatever the reason, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory. General Order Number 3 One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with: "The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer." The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. Juneteenth Festivities and Food A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations. Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations. Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish. Meats such as lamb, pork and beef which not available everyday were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebrations left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next. Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition's roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former 'masters'. Juneteenth and Society In the early years, little interest existed outside the African American community in participation in the celebrations. In some cases, there was outwardly exhibited resistance by barring the use of public property for the festivities. Most of the festivities found themselves out in rural areas around rivers and creeks that could provide for additional activities such as fishing, horseback riding and barbecues. Often the church grounds was the site for such activities. Eventually, as African Americans became land owners, land was donated and dedicated for these festivities. One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth was organized by Rev. Jack Yates. This fund-raising effort yielded 00 and the purchase of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. In Mexia, the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T. Washington Park, which had become the Juneteenth celebration site in 1898. There are accounts of Juneteenth activities being interrupted and halted by white landowners demanding that their laborers return to work. However, it seems most allowed their workers the day off and some even made donations of food and money. For decades these annual celebrations flourished, growing continuously with each passing year. In Booker T. Washington Park, as many as 20,000 African Americans once flowed through during the course of a week, making the celebration one of the state’s largest. Juneteenth Celebrations Decline Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family-taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom text books proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the date signaling the ending of slavery - and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th. The Depression forced many people off the farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. Thus, unless June 19th fell on a weekend or holiday, there were very few participants available. July 4th was the already established Independence holiday and a rise in patriotism steered more toward this celebration. Resurgence The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Texas Blazes the Trail On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Representative Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America. Juneteenth In Modern Times Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Juneteenth has continued to enjoy a growing and healthy interest from communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of National Juneteenth Organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations - all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture. Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing. The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states come on board and form local committees and organizations to coordinate the activities. Communication and networking is vital. A sharing of lessons learned throughout all organizations will help expedite this growth while minimizing waste and risks. The JUNETEENTH.com website can play a vital role in these efforts. Thus, it is important to communicate its existence to one and all. Contact your local Juneteenth organizer if you do not see them listed within and let them know about this site. There is no cost for organizations to post their Juneteenth festivities at the website. History of Juneteenth ©JUNETEENTH.com 1996-2008
Linden Farmers Market Photo by Michigan Municipal League Summer 2014
Image by Michigan Municipal League (MML) The Michigan Municipal League is doing a series of case studies or how-to reports about placemaking activities taking place throughout the Great Lakes State. The League recently completed an in-depth look at the state’s rapidly growing farmers market movement. In doing the study, the League visited about 40 of the 300-plus markets in Michigan. We took photos of each market observed and are posting them here on flickr so that the world can see the important role that farmers markets can play in making vibrant communities. Feel free to use any of these photos from our stop at the Linden Farmers Market in Linden, which is in southern Genesee County. We just ask that photo credit be given like this: flickr photo/Michigan Municipal League, mml.org. You can view the farmers market case study here: placemaking.mml.org/michigan-farmers-markets and a blog and slideshow about the farmers markets here: placemaking.mml.org/2014/09/15/placemaking-in-action-mich.... You can view all our how-to reports here: placemaking.mml.org/how-to/. Go here to view our flickr entire collection of farmers market photos: www.flickr.com/photos/michigancommunities/collections/721... Here are some details about this case study and what we found during our statewide farmers market tour in the summer of 2014: The 300-plus farmers markets that exist in Michigan come in all shapes and sizes. They’re in large urban centers and tiny villages. They pop up in parking lots, fields, roadsides, on main street and in permanent, historic structures. They sell traditional farmers market fare – corn, apples, maple syrup, potatoes, and pumpkins – and the unexpected – homemade spices, baby clothes, fresh-caught fish, jewelry, and even sea urchin. You can get your knives sharpened, your face painted and your groceries for the week. At a farmers market you can find old friends and meet new ones. And you can talk to the vendor who grew the melon or flowers you’re thinking about buying. Farmers markets can even help create a place for people to gather and revitalize a community and give an economic boost to existing businesses and inspire new merchants to open. In writing a how-to case study about Michigan Farmers Market for the Michigan Municipal League, I got the chance this summer to visit about 30 markets across our great state. I saw thousands of people pack into the new location for the Flint Farmers Market to great fanfare for its grand opening in downtown on June 21. I smelled the yummy salsa dish a woman was preparing for her church fundraiser at the Dansville Farmers Market. I saw a man holding a rooster in Birmingham, a robotics team in Grand Blanc, violinists performing in East Lansing and Traverse City, and Spanish mackerel on sale at the new Downtown Market in Grand Rapids. I’ve always enjoyed going to farmers markets but the sights and sounds I experienced in my market tour this summer were truly inspirational, exciting and simply fun. While I saw many successful markets, I did experience some that seemed to need a shot in the arm. I also attempted to go to a couple markets that I eventually learned are no longer in operation. So what makes one market flourish as another withers on the vine? The success or failure of a market can come down to three words: Relationships, relationships, relationships, said Dru Montri, director of the Michigan Farmers Market Association, an East Lansing-based non-profit organization that tracks and provides support to farmers markets throughout the state. Montri said the 320 farmers markets in their data base this year is a record high since the association formed and starting tracking farmers markets in 2006. While some close each year many more open. “Farmers markets are based on relationships,” Montri explained. “That’s the best thing about markets, and it can also be the most challenging aspect of markets. It’s relationships between farmers themselves, relationships between vendors and the market management, relationships between the market manager and sponsors and relationships between vendors and shoppers. All of those are very, very important. People love farmers markets because of that. People love going and talking to vendors about how things are grown.” But Montri said when relationships sour that can impact everything in a market. A successful market will have strong leaders who can forge good relationships on all levels. She suggests a market have a board of directors or advisory team to oversee it. Montri said the number of farmers markets in Michigan have doubled since 2006 for several reasons. Those reasons include an increase in consumer interest about where and how their food is made and processed; a growing awareness among community leaders about the value a farmers market can have in economic development and creating a sense of place and community in their town; and a desire by farmers and vendors in direct marketing options, which tend to be more profitable. She believes the number of markets will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, especially as more markets start to offer financial assistance programs to those in need, such as the acceptance of SNAP Bridge Cards and related services. “There is such a large number of consumers who haven’t even yet considered shopping at farmers markets,” Montri said. “As long as we have the potential to bring more people into farmers markets, we have the opportunity to expand the number of markets. As long as we are strategic about growth, we can avoid these saturation points. But, starting a market a mile away from an existing market on the same day of the week, for example, can cause over saturation.” This post and related case study was written by Matt Bach, director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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