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Healthy lifestyles create strong communities

ENCINITAS — Ever wondered where the food on your plate comes from? What exactly is in that chicken nugget? Why does a bag of chips cost less than a bag of organic carrots? You’re not alone.
The Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association is taking a pivotal step in educating the community about environmental issues, including the food industry, by presenting the Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film series.
On the first Thursday of the month from May to July in the Pacific Station Project at 687 South Coast Highway 101, free films will be shown to the community. Chipotle Mexican Grill will be on hand to serve light fare. The chain restaurant is known for its dedication to buying ingredients from local farmers.
The first screening at 7 p.m. May 6 is “Food, Inc.,” an award-winning documentary that reveals how a handful of corporations control the nation’s food supply.
We should have healthy living in the bag in a paradise like Encinitas, where the readily accessible beach and trails act as an incentive to participate in outdoor activities. On any given day, the water is dotted with surfers and swimmers; skate parks are filled with skateboarders; the sand is pounded by runners and the bike lanes are filled with cyclists.
However, the food we eat puts consumers, small farmers and the environment at risk according to the filmmakers.
For instance, the film asserts that because of the high proliferation of processed foods derived from corn, Americans are facing epidemic levels of diabetes among adults and alarming increases in obesity, especially among children.
Despite all of the physical activity that occurs in the city, what to eat and how it impacts the health of the community remains a central issue. The association is promoting healthy living by screening the environmental films, which also include documentaries about water sources and beach and ocean vitality.
“I think it’s important that we know where our food comes from and what’s in it,” said Encinitas resident John Tinsley. While shopping at the Leucadia Farmer’s Market on a recent Sunday, he lamented the mystery behind the origins of food. “That’s why I shop at farmers markets and eat at restaurants I know are purchasing their supplies from locally grown farmers that don’t add a bunch of unnecessary,” he said. “I don’t need corn syrup in my pork, but there it is if I buy it from a regular grocery store.”
Fortunately, there are a plethora of healthy food options to choose from in the city. Whether it’s a dining out experience or a run to the market, residents have demystified choices.
Tim and Heidi Brock, owners of Darshan Bakery and Café located at 949 Second Street, are dedicated to serving the best product. “It’s all just about money these days and while we want the business to do well, our main focus is not profit,” Tim Brock said. “For the most part I make my soups and sandwiches with high-quality, organic ingredients.”
With rolling pin in hand, Brock said he takes great care with preparing most of the food. Taking the mechanization out of food preparation is integral to creating a high-quality product according to Brock. “More focused human contact with food is important,” he said. “Taking the experience back to homemade, small scale cooking enriches the community.”
Monica Szepesy, owner of Q’ero located at 564 South Coast Highway 101, said the philosophy of her Peruvian and South American-styled restaurant is consistent with the
“slow food movement.” Ingredients are fresh, many of them locally grown and prepared as an “artisan craft that brings communities together.”
Soon residents will be able to stop in at Whole Foods in the Pacific Station complex. “I’m looking forward to a market that caters to people who are concerned about what they eat, where it comes from and what’s in it,” said Cynthia Bertran, an Encinitas resident. “Living a healthy lifestyle means understanding what’s in your food so you can make the best choices,” she said, adding that although she has already seen the film she plans to attend the screening. “It’s the kind of movie you can watch a thousand times.”
The environmental film screenings also include a free raffle ticket for participants who travel to the event using nongasoline powered transportation.
For more information, contact The Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association at (760) 943-1950.