“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

–Nineteenth century Nēhilawē (Cree) proverb

In a society where junk food, such as a twinkie is cheaper than a nutrient dense carrot, we can clearly see that our food system is broken.

In the video below, Michael Pollan explains why schools feed children ‘junk’…

We all know that the “S.A.D. – Standard American Diet” (processed food, high in fat, salt & sugar) is killing us. As Mark Bittman wrote in a NY Times Op-ed:

“Direct subsidies to farmers for crops like corn (high-fructose corn syrup) and soybeans (vegetable oil) keep the prices of many unhealthful foods and beverages artificially low. There are indirect subsidies as well, because prices of junk foods don’t reflect the costs of repairing our health and the environment”.

Our food policy is dictated by the ‘big agriculture lobby’ and rising obesity, diabetes and heart disease rates is only part of the price we pay. Our eco-system depends on our food choices. In Diet for a Hot Planet, Anna Lappé argues that unless we radically shift the trends of what foods we’re eating, how they’re produced (chemical fertilizers / pesticides) & transported (Chilean grapes in NY markets, etc.), we will destroy not only our health, but accelerate global warming.

As Michael Pollan puts it so eloquently In Defense of Food, we should “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – in other words, a climate friendly diet.  Such a diet would respect the laws of nature (eating foods grown locally / in season), regenerate soil and water, lower carbon emissions / mitigate climate change and enable communities to become partners in a sustainable food system.

In a round-table discussion: How to feed a growing planet?, author / activist Raj Patel explains that hunger is a political problem. We have enough to feed the world, but our industrialized food system focuses on profits at the expense of human lives.  We fail to act as a community and think of our actions as separate from our global family – see examples below:

  • Fiji water is it OK for us to drink ‘Fiji’ water, when Fijians do not have clean drinking water?
  • Palm oil endangered orangutans are loosing their habitat at an alarming rate; killed to produce palm oil…
  • Quinoa  is quinoa’s popularity in the West, damaging those who grow it?

In an equitable food system, those who produce the food, deserve to make a livelihood (fair trade), everyone has access to healthful foods and a healthier eco-system. The video below is an interesting discussion between Anna Lappé, her mother and moderated by Raj Patel: Eat, Drink, and Be Ecological About It.

Let’s learn from what’s working: