Robin Rhine McDonald
5 Ways your Eating can Improve the World
Happy Earth Day! Did you know that what is at the end of your fork has the biggest capacity to either improve the world or make it worse?
A bit of a heavy thought, huh?
Or perhaps it seems extreme.
What's extreme is the impact a terrible food supply is having on our planet. It is estimated that over the next 35 years, 95 trillion dollars will be spent on direct health care costs and indirectly through lost productivity and disability due to chronic disease (diabetes, cancer, dementia, Alzheimer's, heart disease, arthritis).
Imagine what we could do with NINETY FIVE TRILLION dollars?! We could literally solve all earth damaging problems.
With all that's going on, we aren't looking at the major contributors to the challenges we are facing.
Did you know that 11 million people die every year from a bad diet?
And that more than a billion people in the world are overweight and sick from eating a processed, nutrient deficient diet?
It is estimated that in just 10 years, 83 million Americans will have three or more chronic diseases compared to 30 million in 2015.
Right now we are faced with a pandemic. Those billion people who are overweight and sick from a poor diet are the most at risk. Why aren't we talking about how to change the food we are feeding people in order to reduce those at risk?
Not to mention, the burden on our planet.
Most of our government's policies support the products, advertising, and consumption of the most detrimental foods to our bodies and the environment. Giant monocrop operations and awful animal feeding operations deplete our soil, emit ridiculous amounts of carbon, and undermine the natural way our earth was created to thrive.
Did you know that 80% of antibiotics administered in this country are given to animals? Why would that be the case? Because the animals are in such awful conditions (the ones that go to all the fast food chains and restaurants that don't have quality standards) that they need antibiotics frequently in order to survive long enough to be slaughtered.
This awful food system doesn't even benefit the farmers or food workers. Farmers who operate these kinds of operations are exposed to toxic chemicals, are under compensated, and over worked. Those who work at the fast food chains that serve these unhealthy foods often cannot afford healthy food themselves, and are then given food stamps, which usually doesn't involve affordable healthy options.
It's a vicious cycle.
It's one that needs to end.
WE can bring it to an end.
As long as I'm here, I will be working against the increase of precious lives given to chronic disease.
This data is not meant to make anyone feel bad for what they eat, but rather, to recognize the ways you've been fed (literally and conceptually) a poor way of living. We are living in a broken and flawed system.
Here are 5 simple ways you can begin to shift these numbers towards a healthier future for everyone.
PURCHASE QUALITY FOODS
I cannot emphasize this one enough. If you can afford it, it is worth every cent to get organic, grass fed, and pasture raised produce (fruits & vegetables) and meats. Not only are these foods far healthier for you, they are significantly better for the environment. Grass fed cows on regenerative farms actually sequester carbon. Every grass fed burger undoes the damage of conventionally raised meat.
By purchasing these standards, you are sending a message with your dollars that THESE foods are the ones that people want. We have a system that is created on profit. Let's show that the money is in the foods that benefit health and the environment.
SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS
I'm excited to see that during this pandemic, a lot of people have started their own gardens or are turning to local farms for their food. This encourages sustainable food production, allows farmers to be paid well, and provides you with healthier foods to eat.
QUIT DRINKING SUGAR
One of the monsters of the unhealthy side (the biggest side - FOR NOW) of the food industry is the beverage industry. For your own health, it has been shown that the biggest single change you can make in your diet for the betterment of your health and the world is to stop drinking sugary drinks. This includes soda, diet soda, vitamin waters, fruit juices, and any other beverage that has a high sugar content. Coca-cola, Pepsi, and the like have, arguably, the biggest influence on what is served to majority of people across the country, and what is made available to children and teens.
INCREASE HOME COOKING
The more you cook healthy meals at home, the more you're purchasing healthy quality foods instead of ultra-processed fast foods. Right now, most of us are forced to do this. Learning how to meal prep and utilize a variety of vegetables and quality meats will dramatically improve your health, but also, as has been said in the other suggestions, improve our communal health and environment.
DECREASE PACKAGED FOOD PURCHASES
Often times, the healthiest foods are the ones that require little to no packaging - meat and produce. Packaged foods all require materials outside of the food itself to be put on the shelves. Those materials come at an environmental cost. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the non-packaged foods are.
Additionally, by using your own bags for produce or for your groceries, we significantly reduce our carbon footprint.
If we all committed to even just one of these ways of eating, we would see a substantial improvement in our health and the health of our planet.
I invite you to join me in improving the world, one bite at a time!
** Data from Food Fix by Dr. Mark Hyman. I HIGHLY recommend reading it!