How (not) to feed the world

What causes someone to seek a healthier lifestyle?   Many things I suppose.

Illness.  Whether it’s you who is sick or people around you, illness can be a powerful motivator for seeking health (not to state the obvious).

Dependents.  When you have people that rely on you, like children or your spouse or your parents (by example), it’s a powerful motivator to want to be healthy to be there for them.

Procreation.  Anyone who has tried to have children and was unsuccessful can appreciate this frustration and the drive to do everything in your power to have them.  Most doctors and literature on the subject recommend no alcohol, no coffee, and generally seeking a healthier lifestyle in support of making a baby (I’ll be writing more about this at some shortly).

Age.  It’s a humbling experience the first time you try to do something you always used to and just can’t anymore (at least not in the way you used to).  Longevity and quality of life can be powerful motivators.  It’s also frustrating when you feel one way in your mind but that image isn’t corroborated by the face staring back at you in the mirror.  Or when you look at people who are the same age and think, my god they look old!

Willpower.  I’ve had a few moments in my life where I just decided to do something. Seeking health was one of them.  The way I have always rationalized such decisions is this… do I want to look back 10 or 20 years from now, wishing I had done something about my health, or do I want to be the person that did?  I choose to be the person who did.

Media.  If I had to point to a single incident that got me thinking more about health and food, it was when I watched the movie “Food, Inc.“.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must view.  This movie is a documentary about the commercial food industry.  It focuses on America, but I imagine many parts of the world have similar issues, particularly as a result of globalization (a topic I will surely talk about at some point in my blog).  What this movie got me thinking about is how things happen. Big decisions and small decisions have to be made by someone (or a group).  At some point, food production changed.  The foods our grandparents ate are not the same foods we are eating now.  So what changed?  And who decided to change things?

In 1960, the global population was about 3 billion.  The largest generation in the history of the planet had just been born; the Baby Boomers (and it’s just happened again with the Millennials).  At that time, if you were looking at likely population projections, you’d have to conclude that the global population would reach 6 billion (or double) in the next 30 years (it’s now 7 billion).  So if you were charged with running a country like, say, the United States at that time, what issues would have been important to you?   While stemming the tide of communism was surely high on the agenda, you would have to be terrified about how all these people and their progeny would be fed, housed, clothed, provided clean water, sewerage and other necessities of life in a first world country.

Food and water would certainly be high on the agenda.  You can’t have people starving or dehydrated.  Memories of the Great Depression and rationing during WWII would have still been strong in the minds of people.  Could family farms be relied upon to feed this growing population?  Could conventional food production methodologies and processes ensure that the population would be fed?  Could it be risked?  It really would be an issue of national security.

The logical thing to do would be to explore new and better ways to produce food to feed this growing population.  If science and the US industrial complex could overcome Hitler and the Japanese war machine, it could certainly conquer this challenge, right?!  It would have been logical to explore ways to increase crop yields per acre.  In the interests of national security, it would have been logical to subsidize broadly useful crops to ensure lots of them were grown (things like corn).  It would have been logical to explore ways to stimulate growth of plants and animals through science to maximize yields.  It would have been logical to explore ways to process and extend food so we get more out of what we produce!  Pests that destroy crops could be killed with chemical sprays, which we could then wash off later before we eat them.  Etc., etc., etc.  Of course market forces would have yielded the same outcomes.  Feeding the world is big business and the allure of profit is all powerful.  Finding ways to increase output and drive down costs would be an enviable result for anyone in the business of producing food.  It would have made perfect sense really. Right?  Of course it made sense, and I understand the reasons how and why it happened. All good and sound reasons.  But the road to hell is paved with good intentions (to steal one of my wife’s favourite sayings).

So what was the outcome of all this?  The result has been a commercial food industry that has the vast majority of the population eating foods that are literally killing us.  We are left with increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, hyperactive children, autism, sterility, etc.  In this blog I will try my best to demonstrate these assertions.  Surely naysayers and parties interested in the opposite being true would have much to say to the contrary.  At present, much of my evidence is anecdotal and from things I have experienced in my life.

So how do we fix it?  The good news is that the solution is relatively simple for us all as individuals.  A big step in the right direction is eating only things that have been produced as Mother Nature designed them.  Do not eat anything that was processed and produced by the commercial food industry.  Trying to change that industry is a much harder task.  It is controlled by 800 pound gorillas with lawyers and lobbyists on their payroll.  But  I will talk about all this more in future blogs.

Nite nite.






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