Yesterday Danielle Neirenberg sent me an email telling me that 7 April is World Health Day and that the focus for this year is high blood pressure. Her email had me thinking all day about nutrition, our health and the food we eat. Let me be clear: I have never met or spoken with Danielle, but I always read her emails when they grace my inbox because she and her organization, Food Tank, have a mission. She wants to feed every person on this planet. No, “feed” is the wrong word–she wants to nourish each and every one of us.
The distinction is important. Her email explains why. Our food is not as nutrient laden as it once was. High yield agriculture and other practices (like sending food to landfills rather than composting) have altered the “nutrient life-cycle”. Her email came a few days after I read “Modern chicken has no flavour” in Salon–which laments the sad reality of high volume food production. It robs our tongues of pleasure by stripping our food of its sensuousness and its purpose.
The Salon article talks about the science of additives to make our food taste the way it should, often using vegetable by-products to increase nutritional content and flavour. Which, if you think about it, is doubly wasteful. I mean, why not just eat the vegetables and let the flavourless chickens live?
Danielle’s concerns are different. She argues that what we are feeding ourselves is making us sick, harming our planet, and making it harder for us to nourish the 7 billion people who live on this planet. In her email, she outlines nine things we can start doing today to be healthier and kinder to ourselves, our neighbours, and our planet.
This is what she recommends:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Encourage farming practices that keep essential nutrients in the soil.
- Learn how our food nourishes us. (How many sources of calcium can you list?)
- Eat whole grains.
- Eat at home more.
- Opt for organic produce whenever possible.
- Support family farms that are more likely to produce foods that are more nutrient rich than commercial farmers.
- Choose meats from grass-fed, pasture raised animals. (Anyone know where I can find pasture-raised fish?)
- Support farms that cultivate indigenous, heritage, and heirloom plants and livestock.
Okay, so none of this is a surprise. But the question buzzing around in my head is: Are we starving ourselves by eating processed foods and could that be one of the reasons for the alarming rise in obesity we are seeing in developed nations?
Aside: Thanks to the Salon article, I plan to read Pandora’s Lunchbox next week. If anyone has read it, I’d like to hear your thoughts about this book and any others that have been published recently about the quality of our food supply.
Really good post Bonnie Lee. I can attest to the Heirloom veggies. The taste is so much better. I liked the fruit texture too, especially the tomatoes. I agree on natural farm raised livestock too. It helps the environment with natural fertilizer. Keeps weeds in check too.
Thanks. Yeah, we are big fans of the heirloom tomatoes too. And turkeys.
It amazes me how far away for original varieties we have moved. As a kid, I remember seeing news programs about the increasing vulnerability our agricultural industry was facing due to increasing homogenization of produce and livestock. At the time, I did not really appreciate the scope of the problem. I do now, and it is frightening.
Let’s hope more people start enjoying local delicacies so we can test the idea that diversity is better i the long run.