A recent study found that giving subjects with a higher body mass index a new opportunity to access and obtain fruits and vegetables led to healthier living.
Much like the study, programs such as Project FRESH, Senior Project FRESH, and the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, offer ways for lower-income people to get nutritional and local foods at low prices or for free with vouchers. Such programs offer a big help to lower-income families as the U.S. Department of Agriculture says grocery foods were 3% more expensive in August 2023 than in August 2022.
Sandy Santamour, the onsite Alpena farmers market manager and vendor, told The News earlier the farmers market accepts those programs.
“There’s this one program called Double Up and people can use their EBT card … and get $20 worth of fresh produce,” Santamour told The News earlier this year. “It’s a way to get families and people to eat some vegetables and fruits.”
In 2023 county health rankings, Northeast Michigan counties showed higher obesity rates than the state and U.S. averages.
About 4,000 subjects were involved in the study by the American Heart Association, which lasted from 2014 to 2020. Each subject was given a $63 voucher each month to use at grocery stores and farmers markets for the sole purpose of buying fruits and vegetables.
After four to 10 months, researchers saw improvements in subjects’ weight, blood pressure, and other health factors.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations said about 20% of U.S. deaths from 2018 to 2019 were related to heart disease caused by obesity, diabetes, and other risks.
Eric Peterson, owner and chef of Alpena’s Fresh Palate, said it’s best to understand and be aware of how food got to your plate.
“We’re at least trying to prep that food as much as possible, rather than buying pre-packaged things,” Peterson said. “If you think about how far something traveled, it also went into a facility to get processed. So, now, there’s even more deterioration on the food, and then you’re putting in a plastic bag or some sort of container. And then people are warming that up around here in the microwave — you start killing all the nutrients in your food.”
He mentioned how cheap and convenient a fast food chain might be, but that the meat in such restaurants’ chicken nuggets or burgers can be incredibly processed and full of different chemicals used to boost production from the livestock.
Peterson said creating a garden or finding local produce is a good way to know where your food comes from.
He said one of the best ways to learn about how to cook is to go to an older relative.
“Talk to your grandma,” Peterson said. “They’re coming from a close-to-nature type of way. They can show you some of the ways to manage your food. My business is held up by the older community, because they remember what real foods like. The best way to start is to just grab all kinds of (stuff) from the fridge and the cupboard and just start mixing it together, see what works, see what doesn’t.”
Peterson said YouTube tutorials on cooking also offer a good way to understand how to make different meals.
“Anything closer to love, anything closer to nature, anything less processed and more hand to hand and more nature to mouth is going to just add so much nutritional value,” Peterson said. “And, technically, there’s energy in everything. And so that energy transfers to your body, so you want the energy of nature.”
Source: The Alpena News