Eating For A Healthy Planet
The debate about agriculture and nutrition has become centred on the conflict between organic agriculture and the GMO/agribusiness approach. There are several issues at stake: the direct health effects of chemicals in the food supply, the capacity of different farming methods to feed the world, and the continued viability of soil resources.
What Kids Know About Food
Many children think of food simply as manufactured goods. A recent British study of 1,000 school children aged between 5 and 11 showed some very strange ideas about the origins of their food. Only one out of every three (33 percent) knew that pork comes from pigs . . . And 4 percent thought that pigs were the source of potatoes. Three in ten (28 percent) did not know that carrots grow underground. When we have spoken in some schools, the level of disconnect between what is eaten and where it comes from is seriously distorted. We have heard that food is “yucky” if it was grown in dirt and that it is “made at the store” or “in a factory.” (These last statements, sadly, ring true.) and yet the young are interested in the state of the environment. They simply don’t connect it with food.
In a recent UK study, it was found that 82 percent of youngsters aged 7 to 14 rated learning about green issues as very important, putting it ahead of science, history, IT, and art. Around 62 percent wanted to learn more about wildlife and nature, and 47 percent want to learn more about where food comes from. Almost all the children were worried about people damaging the planet. An American poll with a sample of 500 preteens showed that 56 percent felt that the world would be irrevocably damaged by the time they grew up. to help, we can educate children to avert and repair environmental damage. The connection between food and the environment is a practical place to start.
Reclaiming Earth Wisdom
When any organism (in this case, man) offends the natural order, there is an account to be settled. This is not a moral directive from an angry god; this is simple cause and effect. When we eat as if life matters, we honour all relationships between animals, soil, plants, the ocean, and the air, and ourselves.
It is difficult to point to the exact moment when we began our steady pull away from knowing about our food. The growth of urban areas and the domination of urban culture happened slowly over several decades. The mass marketing of our food and the erasure of seasonal or regional eating has moved us into a nutritional grey zone. The food in Amsterdam and the food in St Louis begins to look, smell, and taste the same. It is a dream come true for the food industry.
All this has happened at the expense of the soil we depend on. As industrialized agriculture grows it continues to leave destruction in its wake. Rivers, aquafers, and lakes become bereft of life and simply toxic dumps for the chemical waste of disastrous farming. The damage is not only done to the soil but to those who work on it.
The True Cost Of Food
The modern consumer enjoys low prices and apparent choice, through the scavenging of environmental resources and cheap labour. This wasteful, exploitive system undermines environmental sustainability and food security for us all. As local soil resources diminish, reliance on chemical fertilizers deepens. The resulting expense drives smaller farmers out of business and reduces biodiversity. This is the true cost of our present system and is not reflected in the price of the food. to discover the true cost of food, the environmental damage needs to be factored in as well as the direct and indirect subsidies and related health costs. The purchasing habits in the wealthier nations are bankrupting the economies and environments of developing nations.
If consumers are uneducated around how food is produced globally, how can we make sensible decisions? If schools accept sponsorship from fast- food companies and allow junk food to rule the vending machines, how are children to know? We should promote “food literacy” in school and at home.
It is difficult to point to the exact moment when we began our steady pull away from knowing about our food. The growth of urban areas and the domination of urban culture happened slowly over many decades. The mass marketing of our food and the erasure of seasonal or regional eating has moved us into a nutritional grey zone. The food in Amsterdam and the food in St Louis begins to look, smell, and taste the same. It is a dream come true for the food industry.
All this is happening at the expense of the environment we depend on for our life. As industrialized agriculture grows it continues to leave destruction in its wake. Soil, rivers, aquafers, and lakes become bereft of life and simply toxic dumps for the chemical waste of disastrous farming. The damage is not only done to natural resources but to those who work on it. This is damage that ripples out from the fact that we seek cheap food, even if it is supplied on the back of human misery. We can most effectively change this through our daily food choices – it is up to us.
In good health