SALT LAKE CITY – A local organic-certified farmer stressed food quality and color when considering nutrition to a group of students at the University of Utah annex building Tuesday, Feb. 28 in commemoration of Love Your Body week.
David Bell is the co-owner of Bell Organic, a local organic farm that has been situated in Draper, Utah for the last fourteen years. Wearing a light dress hat and exposing his chest through an opened plaid shirt, Bell shared how his lifestyle and food appetites have changed since being a famer and the impact simple things can have on students.
Bell was invited as a keynote speaker in a week’s worth of events called Love Your Body, Love Your Land week, presented by a student committee that collectively identifies themselves as SPEAK. SPEAK is an acronym that stands for Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge.
“Guess what, fresh-everything tastes better,” Bell said while passing around a tray of two large Spanish tortillas made only of freshly-grown produce from his farm. He said his rule-of-thumb centers around fresh ingredients and that freshness equates to better nutrition and taste.
While the ambient sounds of crunching and hearty swallows filled the room, Bell spoke openly about his experience becoming a farmer and the impact it has played on his and his family’s lives. What started out as a small 4-by-8 foot all organic garden in the backyard of Bell’s Sugar House area home, turned into a half-acre plot he and his wife Jill purchased when they decided to go into the business of farming together. The plot used to be an old dairy farm in Draper, Utah. These decisions came about while Bell was between jobs and without any prior farming experience.
“I had heard that a half billion people in China were being fed by one-half acre farms,” Bell said, before explaining how he felt Salt Lake County could sustain something similar just fine with the available resources, population, and perceived demand. The venture has since become a success. Now just over 25 acres in size, the farm also hosts a community supported agriculture program (CSA) that feeds more than 150 households every week during the farming season, all while following federal regulations to maintain an all-organic crop.
Bell also shared that there are plenty of side benefits to farming that he enjoys besides just the fresh food. He particularly enjoys being in shape and staying tan throughout the season while admitting that his weight fluctuates by as much as 20 pounds offseason.
“In the offseason I work as a real estate agent,” Bell said, just before jokingly stating “I have both the most overcompensated and undercompensated jobs in America.”
“While SPEAK is focused on body, this year we also wanted to include your land; hence the title and Mr. Bell,” said Brittany Badger, a graduate student studying health promotion and education under Reel. This is Badger’s third year being involved with SPEAK and Love Your Body week. While taking a sigh of relief after the day’s event and presentation, when asked what she thought of the tortilla, there was no hesitation. “It was amazing,” she said, “It may have been the best thing I’ve eaten.”
“This is the tenth anniversary of SPEAK and Love Your Body week,” said SPEAK founder and faculty advisor Justine Reel, Ph.D and assistant professor in the Department of Health at the University of Utah. “It started off with just four students who wanted to get involved,” she said while elaborating on how she feels the endeavor has evolved into a successful medium to reach out to students struggling with eating disorders. Reel also explained that the Love your body, love your land events share the same week as the National Eating Disorders Awareness week and therefore makes the events even more significant and in-line with the group’s mission.
According to the SPEAK homepage, the group is made up of many diverse students who promote self-esteem, self-efficacy, healthy body image, and healthy eating habits. Their mission is to promote awareness of eating disorders and body image issues through educating diverse populations, developing strategies for prevention, providing resources for treatment, and conducting relevant research.
For more information about SPEAK, visit http://web.utah.edu/speak.html