Defining “good food”

The Michigan Good Food Charter defines good food as food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable.

Within the context the group creates, healthy food is defined as food that provides nourishment and enables people to thrive; green food was produced in a manner that is environmentally sustainable; fair means that no one along the production line was exploited during its creation; and, affordable means that all people have access to it.

Many think of good food as primarily fruits and vegetables, but it also includes meat, dairy and grains. And while good food is nutrient-dense it is also tasty and visually appealing.

Good food means that it enhances the condition of is consumers and growers; its production maintains the health of the environment while generating a profit for the grower. These three conditions, people/society, environment and profit are also referred to as the triple bottom line. In a triple bottom line system people/society and the environment are equally as important as profit.

A food system that consistently produces good food for all has many potential benefits. Unfortunately, Michigan currently has a problem of inadequate access to good food across Michigan communities. This problem is especially prevalent in low income areas with low car ownership or lack of public transportation. Approximately 54 percent of all census tracts in Michigan lack reasonable access to retail grocery stores that offer healthy and affordable fresh produce, along with meat, poultry, milk and dairy products.

Good food is an essential element of good nutrition and healthy development of our youth. However, good food is conspicuously absent from many Michigan school lunch programs. “Most school lunches rely heavily on high-energy, low-nutrient-value food, because it’s cheaper,” said Dr. Kim A. Eagle, director of the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center.

Dr. Eagle conducted a study that found a correlation between the incidence of obesity and regular participation in the Michigan school lunch program that was published in the December 2010 issue of "American Heart Journal." Over 1,000 sixth graders in southeastern Michigan were in the study where participants in the school lunch program were 29 percent more likely to be obese.

Good food has the potential to increase the health and viability of Michigan’s economy and its residents when it is the foundation of transformational changes in our community food systems. The steps necessary to lead to such a community food system are outlined in the Michigan Good Food Charter.

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