It's that time of year again: Farmers markets, farm stands, Community Supported Agriculture programs, and backyard gardens are getting into full swing in the Northeastern United States. We're nearing the time when tomatoes will taste like tomatoes instead of cardboard, when we can pick our own fruit. With this abundance of local treats, who needs junk? It's almost as if we could go an entire month completely avoiding any derivatives of a certain industrially produced vegetable...
That's right, everyone! Corn-Free July is coming again! For a refresher course on what it is and how it started, here's my inaugural blog post from last year. The only difference is that this time I'm not doing it alone.
Calling all sustainable food junkies: Why not try this? Not necessarily for the whole month, but for one week, one day a week, whatever works for you. Let me know who and where you are, and why you're participating in the comments section here, on Twitter using the hashtag #cornfreejuly, or on the message board for the new Corn Free July Facebook event.
And since there's nothing internet readers (present company included) seem to love more than a good list, here are the top 5 reasons that signing up for Corn-Free July 2012 is a decision you won't regret:
5) Health. You are what you eat, and what the average American eats often amounts to processed foods whose main ingredients are sweeteners and other empty calories derived from corn. People who eat large amounts of these processed foods are, as we know, at higher risk for things like heart disease and diabetes. There's even been a study linking high fructose corn syrup to autism.
4) Local economy. Foods that are less processed often mean foods that are locally sourced, since they aren't able to be shipped as far. Now more than ever, it's important to keep our dollars close to home.
3) Sustainable farming. Corn-Free doesn't just mean no high fructose corn syrup: it also means no meat or other products from corn-fed animals. Every time you buy a grass-fed steak, you not only make a good choice for your heart, but you vote with your wallet for more humane and environmentally safe animal husbandry practices.
2) The fun of a challenge. Have you ever accidentally had a great time reading a book that you might not have gotten around to if the power hadn't gone out so you couldn't watch TV? Healthy eating forces you not to do things like eat in your car or at fast food places that, let's face it, you weren't going to enjoy anyway. It introduces you to new recipes, ingredients, shopping locations, and restaurants.
1) Hipster points! Five years from now, you'll be able to tell everybody that you knew about Corn-Free July before it was cool, and how the girl who started it is a total sell-out for making her book available on Amazon.
OK maybe that last one is a stretch, but still. Whaddaya say?