The Happy Kitchen – For a Sustainable Environment

Texas is big and Texans have big appetites.  Unfortunately, not all Texans make wise food choices, and it shows.  Almost 66% of adult Texans are overweight or obese.  Just as alarming is the fact that 35% of school-aged children in Texas are overweight or obese.  That percentage is twice as high as the national average.One sustainable environmental activist group, the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas, has decided to put some healthy alternatives on the household table.  The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre has been working with and training Texans interested in making healthier food choices since 1995, when the program was cited by the Austin Chronicle as the “Best Social Service Program” in the state.In 2008, The Happy Kitchen took its message to a much more personal level and began offering cooking classes specifically geared for breast cancer survivors.  The initial two class series was attended by 60 persons from 18 differing Texas zip codes.  After the preliminary classes, The Happy Kitchen is expanding its effort and offering six-week sessions in 2009.  Studies have shown that a healthy diet is a deterrent to the recurrence of cancer.One class attendee explained her excitement with the program: “I fell more knowledgeable and able to make plans for healthy eating.  I have practical strategies for planning meals.  I bought the cook book and am finding it a great organizing tool.”The Happy Kitchen is setting its sights on helping with the eating habits of Texans and hoping to reduce the number of overweight children and adults by increasing the number of homes making these healthy food choices.  The Happy Kitchen is working with Texas families of middle and low-income levels to increase sustainable food sources.The programs teach the skills necessary to put economically viable and healthy meals on the table.  These meals typically consist of whole grains, fresh produce and low-fat products.  Often changes in food choices begin by changing to nutritional shopping patterns and follows by changing cooking and eating habits.The Healthy Kitchen food programs reduce diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.  The Sustainable Food Center and The Healthy Kitchen are making the green movement personal and are taking their message into the kitchens of Texas homes.

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