Sources of Healthy Foods
Many healthy food sources are available in your area if you know where to look. The following are some resources that may help you shop healthier and improve your food choices.
Gardening and Community Gardens
Gardening promotes good health by providing physical activity, reducing stress, teaching adults and children about the origins of healthy food, and provides fresh, affordable, healthy food! There are lots of wonderful free resources available to families, communities and schools.
- Gardening is made simple with online resources that outline month-to-month what you can be doing.
- The Utah State University Extension has a website with useful tips for growing vegetables and herbs, caring for your soil, and tips for controlling pests in your garden. If you're new to gardening you can learn about gardening basics. There are also gardening apps available for your mobile device. If the classroom is more your style the extension also offers seasonal gardening classes at Thanksgiving Point.
- Wasatch Community Gardens has classes, workshops, and and activities for kids.
If you live where you don't have space for a garden a community garden might be a good fit. In Utah there are several community gardens dedicated to growing local, healthy food to help you become more healthy and self-reliant. One such garden is the Wasatch Community Gardens, which includes 8 community gardens throughout Salt Lake County.
Community gardens are collaborative projects created by members of a community where participants share the maintenance and production of the garden. People who participate in a community garden benefit from improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Other benefits include increased physical activity, improved mental and social health, the enjoyment of nature, and community cohesion.
Find 10 simple tips for starting a community garden as well as 10 necessary tools to get you started from The American Community Gardening Association.
The Public Health Law Center has developed several garden resources for communities, addressing legal and policy issues.
Farmers markets are a great source of locally grown, healthy foods. The USDA has a national farmers market directory available to help you find a farmers market in Utah or wherever you might be.
Utahns Against Hunger also has a list of farmers markets located throughout the state of Utah that participate in the SNAP "Double Up Food Bucks" program.
SNAP is the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps) for low-income families. SNAP participants are able to use electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to make puchases at SNAP authorized farmers markets. Please download the Farmers Market SNAP flyer for additional information.
Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members purchase a share of a farm's produce for a growing season, and in return receive a weekly delivery of what's in season at their local farm. By participating in CSA, citizens enjoy fresh, local produce while directly supporting farming and famers in their community. One example in Utah is Bountiful Baskets.
Emergency Food Networks
Utah has many emergency food networks to help people out in times of need. Some of these programs include:
Utahns Against Hunger
Utahns Against Hunger (UAH) is an association which helps people find the food help that they need through both charitable responses and Federal Nutrition Programs.
Utah Food Bank
The Utah Food Bank collects and distributes food to human service organizations throughout the state.
Backyard Garden Share
The Backyard Garden Share program finds a home for surplus produce from your home garden. Donated produce is distributed through sites such as food banks, pantries, schools, or churches. For more information on how to get involded please see the Backyard Garden Share flyer.
Commonly known as Food Stamps, SNAP is a Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps struggling families put food on the table. Each month more than 46 million people receive assistance from the SNAP program.
Tips for Eating Out
- Watch your portion size. Take half the entrée home or split the meal with a friend
- Ask to substitute high fat items like French fries for a baked potato vegetables or side salad
- Avoid buffets, and all-you-can-eat specials
- When making menu choices, avoid breaded, batter-dipped, and tempura, which mean fried food, which is heavy in fat
- Look for lower fat options such as grilled, steamed, roasted, or baked in their own juices
- Look up menu option online ahead of time to determine healthy choices that are within an appropriate calorie range for you
- Ask for Nutrition information at the restaurant
- Calorie King is a great site for looking up the nutritional information of almost any food. It can help you make wise decision and compare and contrast similar foods. It also can be a resource for restaurant menu choices.
Policies within the community are important in creating a healthy community environment. Stay aware of local bills and legislation that affect the health of your community. Help your community become a healthier place by being involved in local government.
Learn why nutrition policy is important, because it takes more than willpower. The Center for Science in the Public Health includes policy options to promote nutrition and activity, including:
- Nutrition labeling
- Marketing of low-nutrition foods to children
- Improving school meals and foods sold outside of meals
- Increasing physical activity in schools
- Supporting physical activity through transportation policy
- Promote fruit and vegetable intake
- Increase resources for nutrition and physical activity programs
- Eliminate trans fat
- Decrease salt
Food Policy Councils
Food policy councils bring together diverse stakeholders from many sectors of the food system. They serve as forums for discussing food issues, foster coordination between sectors in the food system, evaluate and influence policy, and launch or support programs and services that address local needs. Learn more about food policy councils from the CDC.
Breastfeeding is the normal and optimal method for feeding human infants. All major health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding (with no other foods or liquids) for 6 months, with the addition of other foods, and continued breastfeeding for at least 12 months.
The Utah Breastfeeding Coalition provides information and support to Utah mothers and health care providers. Find breastfeeding resources in your community, including community resources such as hospital and clinics, WIC clinics, La Leche League groups, where to rent a breast pump; breastfeeding information websites, and breastfeeding books for adults and children.
La Leche League of Utah offers a referral line in English and Spanish, individual help over the phone, and monthly meetings to learn from and share with other moms and dads.