Arianne McGinnis is a co-founder of Hope Grows Farm.
While working on my thesis (on the impact of Slow Food chapters in the Southern United States), I began to ask myself, who or what is really the foundation of the Slow Food movement?
The answer, which should be obvious, but frequently isn't, due to our endemic disconnection with where our food comes from, is our food producers: those incredibly ambitious, fearless, hard-working individuals who commit their everyday lives to growing, raising, and harvesting nature's sustenance.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a humbling afternoon with two young farmers from Hope Grows Farm in Sylvania, Georgia, about an hour northwest of Savannah. Arianne McGinnis and Elliott McGann started Hope Grows about two-and-a-half years ago, after meeting while working for Americorps in post-Katrina New Orleans, where much of Arianne's family is based. Consisting of 6.5 acres of pasture-based farm, Hope Grows is home to chickens, pigs, and turkeys, as well as vegetable gardens, berry patches, and orchards.
While I loved wandering the pastures, photographing the new chicken coop Elliott was building from an old cotton trailer, and making friends with the pigs, what I really wanted to know was how a 25-year-old and 27-year-old with no family history of farming ended up becoming farmers themselves.
Arianne explained that Hurricane Katrina was a life-changing experience. She lost her grandmother and witnessed the devastating effects it had on other members of her family.
After leaving Louisiana State University, where she was studying pre-med, in search of something more meaningful, Arianne became an activist for Greenpeace. Ultimately, for her, that seemed to be more reactive than pro-active. She really didn’t want to make better corporations, or to be constantly at odds with a corporate structure, so she moved on and went to work for Americorps as a volunteer coordinator in New Orleans.
During that time, two important things happened: she met Elliott, and she went to visit a friend who was living and working on a farm in Bahia, Brazil, where was introduced to the concept of farming as activism. She recalls that, "Unlike my job interests up to that point, which were about fixing some part of the system or opposing some part of the system, I realized, 'Oh, we can make our own system!'"
In 2009, Arianne returned home to nearby Statesboro, Georgia, discovered land in need of farming, and called on Elliott to join her in this new adventure. Today, part of what they're doing is demonstrating that you don't need a large amount of land to make a living and produce a high amount of quality food for a good number of people. With 6.5 acres, Hope Grows is able to supply roughly 150 families on the food they produce, all of which is grown with no antibiotics, no chemicals, and no heavy machinery. The biggest piece of equipment Arianne and Elliott have is a truck that is used for hauling and to take them to the farmers' market at the weekend.
I think what they're doing is remarkable. And I couldn't be more proud to support them in their efforts. It's not an easy, slow life. It's hard work, but it's so rewarding, and the results taste amazing! These are the individuals that are supported and celebrated by Slow Food.
This article orginally appeared in GOOD and is republished here with permission of the blogger.
Head into 2012 equipped with the right knowledge to take control of your health. Bring along your personal medical record and any important information from your family's health history, and prepare a list of questions to ask your doc. While you may think a trip to the doctor is only necessary when you don't feel well, an annual visit is a critical preventive measure, a true investment in your health. A new year is on the horizon, and therefore, plenty of opportunities for a new start - so take down the barriers and open up to your physician. Honestly is definitely the best policy when it comes to the exam room. Typical checkup activities may include: blood pressure measurement, examination of the heart, lungs, abdomen, and reflexes. In some cases, your doctor may suggest lab work, such as a cholesterol measure, measure of glucose and hemoglobin concentrations, urinalysis, or tests to determine liver, renal, and thyroid functionality.
There is, however, more to the annual exam than routine tests and a pat on the back for a good health report. It helps to create a therapeutic relationship with your doctor that is based on trust and confidence. Physicians usually schedule a little extra time for the annual exam, so take that time to make sure your physician has an accurate picture of your state of health. Write up those questions and make the phone call to your physician's office. It's the perfect start to a New Year's resolution - better health.
It sounds like a mixed message: drinking alcohol may offer some health benefits especially for your heart; on the other hand, alcohol may increase your risk of health problems and damage your heart. So which is it? The Mayo Clinic cites the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that if you choose to drink alcohol at all, do so in moderation — up to one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men.
Popular research has shown that light and moderate drinkers score better than heavy drinkers and those who abstain entirely on a range of health indicators. A summary of the results of many such studies over the years can be found here. While recent studies have highlighted the health-giving properties of wine and some other alcoholic drinks, drinking modest amounts of alcohol does not necessarily maker you healthier, reports the Telegraph. Often those who enjoy alcohol without indulging to excess tend to be wealthier and more successful than average – the sort of people who look after other areas of their health.
That said, regardless of status, it’s easy for all of us to slip from moderate to heavy drinking in an evening, so let's exercise caution, for ourselves and others, as we enter the New Year!