HOPEDALE, MA - When it comes to a healthy diet packed with nutrients and vitamins, simply eating your veggies might not cut it anymore.
Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that nutrient levels in crops have continued to go down in the past three decades, raising concerns for farmers and consumers alike.
At the same time, controversy over genetically modified crops continues to brew, as some advocacy groups argue the risks associated with the technique have not been properly studied.
In honor of Earth Day, the Hopedale Unitarian Parish is offering in April several programs to raise awareness of several environmental debates that could impact our health and wallets, and what we can do to grow the best food possible.
"It's pretty much in going with the Earth Day theme for April and our efforts in encouraging environmental consciousness and social action," said Michele Alves, a member of the parish who last year spearheaded a community farmer's market.
On April 12 at 6:30 p.m., the parish will show the film "Genetic Roulette" – a documentary that explores the health problems found in animals that are fed genetically modified foods, and the potential connection to health issues on the rise in humans.
After the film, Martin Dagoberto, co-founder of Massachusetts Right to Know GMOs, will offer a question and answer session and discuss his involvement with the national push to label genetically engineered foods.
Then on April 19 at 7 p.m., Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association, a nonprofit organization that works with farmers to educate them on growing better crops, will offer a free lecture on increasing the quality in our food supply.
Kittredge in November offered a lecture at the library, which Alves said was "very well attended."
"People can come down and hear about what they can do to grow their own food in their own gardens and how to understand quality in their foods," Alves said. "There will also be a demonstration on how to sample the nutrient levels in food."
Alves said she senses there is a growing interest in issues regarding food quality, and she has been working with Gary Neves, who owns Hopedale Package Store, to try and coordinate a community garden, possibility in collaboration with the schools.
"We've been trying to meet with people in the community, and hopefully by the end of school year or summer we'll have some ideas," she said.
Hopedale Unitarian Parish is located at 65 Hopedale St. Earth Day is April 22.