Too Much To Ask?: A Food System That Makes Us Healthy
In college I had an epiphany that told me: What’s good for the planet, is good for the people too. I have spent the 25+ years since exploring that truth, with a focus on the connections between food systems, human health, law and policy, and ecological resiliency.
It never fails that this epiphany is proven time and again when looking at what food makes people healthy and what food is best for the health of the ecosystems.
We are part of the earth, that much is abundantly clear. The earth; it’s bugs, waterways and critters, don’t do well when toxic chemicals and poured all over them, acre upon acre, killing every living plant and pollinator. It is obvious that toxic, chemical herbicide and pesticide agriculture is bad for the environment.
And guess what, the human body does not do well when we ingest those poisonous residues on our food. What’s bad for the earth, is bad for us too.
The fact that poison is bad for us and for the planet might seem laughably obvious, and yet the vast majority of our agriculture is done this way, and the US government is in full support of it, offering trainings and subsidies. And citizens are over-exposing themselves to food system, and other poisons daily.
When I had this epiphany, in the early 1990’s, I was in college where all food conversation amongst women was about how to not get fat (even though we all thought we were too fat). How to eat less calories. Mustard on popcorn. Snackwell cookies. Fat free refried beans.
I went from studying ancient food systems at Colgate University to studying the law and policies of our current American and global food system at Vermont Law School. I then went on to become a clinical functional nutritional therapist to learn how to support people back to a natural state of health and proper function.
Food policies are too often crafted without the vital understanding of what actually makes people healthy to guide the policy purpose and deliverables.
Ancient food systems relied on the natural abundance the earth provides. It requires civilizations to understand where to find food at different times of year, how to preserve it and how to interact with wild lands for hunting and foraging.
As I dived into our current structure, I thought that none of it made any sense, with regard to our current framework for supporting and regulating the food industry. The way we do food in the US destroys the environment, including pollinators, waterways, birds, soil health and air quality. It is toxic monoculture that destroys habitat and offers no refuge for nature’s essential buzz.
The insane backwards irony of it all is that the food system is not even geared towards producing food that will make the people healthy.
The insane backwards irony of it all is that the food system is not even geared towards producing food that will make the people healthy. All this money, time and WATER, to produce toxic junk food that has resulted in sky rocketing epidemics of chronic preventable diseases like diabetes, Alzheimers, autism, ADD, anxiety, depression, cancer, heart disease, violence, malaise and autoimmune disorders.
We are too bogged down in a fog to feel how good life can feel.
We have to get back to understanding that we are children of this earth and that food closer to nature is what our delicate, complicated bodies and brains need to work best. It is within our abilities to experience lives that feel truly delightful, and yet most of us are suffering from malnourishment and toxic exposures from our food system and so we are too bogged down in a fog to feel how good life can feel.
And so, as a society, we believe life is one way, and that obscures our view of how to manage the food system and what to demand of it. We don’t know what we don’t know and that is literally ruining our lives, destroying our health and ultimately killing us slowly.
A society cannot survive on the foundation of a broken food system.
A society cannot survive on the foundation of a broken food system. It’s time to shake off the cobwebs, get nourished, get balanced and reclaim our right to love our lives! Society will be better off for it. Healthy happy people make a country a great place to live. Unhealthy, angry, foggy people create a society that is dysfunctional and destructive and abusive.
We can change the trajectory of our beautiful America. To do so, to bring back our spirit, our spark and to claim our potential, we have to start by reforming the food system.