Food Fix (2020) demonstrates how some of the world's most serious issues, such as chronic illness, inequality, and climate catastrophe, can all be linked back to our food and the methods by which it is grown and produced. This article by American physician Mark Hyman outlines the next steps we need take in order to achieve healthy eating and regenerative agricultural practices.
Who is the target audience for the Food Fix book?
- Anyone who is interested in eating properly and having a healthy lifestyle
- Environmentalists and climate activists are on the rise.
- Farmers that want to make the switch to sustainable agriculture should read this.
Who is Dr. Mark Hyman, and what is his background?
Dr. Mark Hyman is a physician in the United States who is also a best-selling book. He is the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, which he established in 2003. Additionally, Dr. Hyman has written a blog for the Huffington Post and has been on the daytime talk program Katie, hosted by Katie Couric, on a regular basis.
What exactly is in it for me? Learn how we may improve our health while also saving the environment via the use of sustainable food.
Take a closer look at the ingredients the next time you purchase a package of potato chips or a can of Coke. Isn't it true that they all sound so innocent? Corn syrup, wheat starch, and soybean oil are all used. They do, however, contain the key to a great deal of the suffering that we see around us. Food that has been overly processed is harming ourselves and the environment. It's the driving force behind the terrible statistics on heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. And it is to blame for the massive quantity of CO2 that has been emitted into the atmosphere in recent years. Is there a decline in the number of honey bees? Is it possible to have a summer without butterflies? You probably guessed it. Agroindustrialization, which is needed to create all of the junk food we consume, is destroying the natural environment and hastening the acceleration of climate change.
With all of this doom and gloom, it's easy to get overwhelmed, isn't it? The good news is that everything is working out. These notes will provide you with a roadmap for the future. You'll learn about foods to avoid, how our governments should be responding, and what farmers can do to ensure a sustainable future for their families. Discover how a Guatemalan farmer is transforming the world; what happened to the so-called "Green Revolution"; and why eating meat may still be considered environmentally sustainable.
The most serious issues we face as a species can all be traced back to one source: our diet.
On occasion, it seems as if the world is coming to an end. As you go through any news stream, you'll be faced with fresh crises, increasing mortality rates, and new wars that have yet to be resolved. There's a new famine on the horizon. The number of cancer fatalities is rising. The polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate. Bees are on the verge of extinction. It's unlikely that "food" would be the first item that springs to mind if you were asked why there appears to be so much worrying news. Despite this, food is at the center of everything. The most important lesson here is that the most serious issues we face as a species can all be traced back to one source: our diet. Consider some of the most serious problems that we, as a society, and the planet are now experiencing.
First and foremost, our health. Surprisingly, our eating habits are the leading cause of mortality, disability, and suffering across the globe today. Our dietary habits have changed dramatically over the past 40 years, and they are no longer recognisable. We are consuming an increasing amount of ultra-processed and sugary meals, which has resulted in a fast rise in the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. These illnesses are now responsible for the deaths of approximately 50 million people each year. They are more than twice as lethal as infections in terms of mortality. This health catastrophe might have been avoided completely, but it has already cost the United States billions of dollars.
Inequality is the second point to mention. Children who eat meals that are highly processed and high in sugar are at risk of malnutrition. As a result, their cerebral development is stunted, and kids may grow up underachieving and pushed into poverty, homelessness, or criminal activity. Bad eating exacerbates the whole cycle of inequity by an order of magnitude. The third point of reference is communities in the developing world. Large agribusinesses and companies that the author refers to as "Big Food" cause significant disturbance in their lives. All the while, these behemoths push people off their lands, demolish their houses, and destroy their traditions, while promoting unhealthy eating and agricultural practices.
Last but not least, the manner in which we generate food is putting the world in risk. The agricultural industry as a whole is the single largest contribution to climate change. It depletes valuable CO2-absorbing habitat and degrades the quality of healthy soils. It has a greater impact on the climate than all of our fossil-fuel corporations put together, together. Intensive agricultural techniques also saturate the planet with harmful fertilizers and pesticides, resulting in the extinction of enormous numbers of animals and the creation of massive "dead zones" in the seas. Traditionally, we have treated these issues as distinct issues, categorizing them as "poor diet" in one category and "climate change" in another. However, they all have one thing in common: they are all about eating. As a result, in order to resolve problems, we must adopt a wide and comprehensive strategy. Consider the following issues in more depth before we define it.
Food poisoning has a terrible financial consequence.
The majority of us are already aware that consuming large quantities of ultra-processed and sugary foods may result in severe health issues. It seems like wherever we turn, there are new healthy-eating fads and “red alert” warnings about unhealthy foods. However, what may come as a surprise is exactly how much poor health costs us all collectively. The most important lesson to take up from this is that the economic impact of poor food is frightening. Take, for example, the United States of America.
Researchers in the United States released two significant studies in 2018: “The Cost of Chronic Diseases in the United States” and “America's Obesity Crisis: The Health and Economic Costs of Excess Weight.” Both reports were published in English. They discovered that the direct expenses of caring for individuals with chronic health problems surpassed $1 trillion in 2016, according to these studies. What is the root cause of these conditions? The majority of the time, the explanation is poor nutrition. There are other indirect expenses to consider. In 2016, lost income, decreased productivity, and the effect on caregivers totaled $2.6 trillion in the United States of America.
In the long run, over a 35-year period, the projected expenses of poor health in the United States alone amount to $95 trillion, according to the World Bank. A large part of this huge amount may be attributed to the cumulative consequences of chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, cancer, mental illness, and other chronic illnesses, among others. Conditions that are – to a great degree – caused by poor nutritional choices. In addition, the research shows that 60 percent of Americans now have at least one chronic illness, with 40 percent having two or more chronic diseases. As a result of being familiar with all of these figures, you can maybe begin to grasp the magnitude of the issue that is confronting just one nation.
But what about the rest of the world? If we extrapolate the results from these studies to a larger scale, we may get an idea of the worldwide effect of poor food. Burgers, corn snacks, candy, and soda are all staples of America's so-called "industrial diet," which has expanded across the globe. The worldwide cost may be in the quadrillions of dollars, according to some estimates. Even though you may think that's a lot of zeros, to me, it doesn't signify anything. We could totally change our world according to the World Bank if we utilized this money in a different way, according to their estimates. With free education and health care for all, we could eradicate poverty, end food insecurity, and hunger; close gaps in social justice, income, and health; eliminate unemployment. We could also rehabilitate infrastructure and transportation systems, transition to renewable energy sources, and transform our industrial agricultural system into a completely sustainable one.
It's certainly something to consider, isn't it?
The agricultural industry is building up a catastrophe for the environment.
When you stop at the drive-thru for a burger or a snack at the gas station, you probably don't think about the journey the food had to get to your lips. If you did, you'd probably want to back out of the drive-thru or gas station as soon as you could thereafter. Why? Because huge agribusinesses, the same folks who farmed that burger or manufactured the components in that snack, are destroying the environment at an alarming rate. The most important lesson here is that big agriculture is preparing for an environmental catastrophe. Let's start with soil, which is one of the most important components of our planet's ecology, if not the most important. Soil is a delicate, living ecosystem that requires special care. It is densely populated with bacteria, fungus, and worms. They work together to remove nutrients from dead materials and provide food for the plants. We are unable to produce crops or raise livestock without good soil.
But intensive farming is destroying this healthy, living ecosystem by pouring toxic pesticides and fertilizers into it, making it unfit for human habitation. Consequently, the globe may only have 60 harvests left until the end of the century. In addition, soil is the most effective carbon sink we have. However, as we continue to erode it via intense farming, we are releasing all of the CO2 that has been held in the soil into the sky. As a consequence, global warming will continue to increase. And while we convert our healthy, nutrient-dense soil into lifeless dirt, we continue to enrich it with nitrogen fertilizer at an increasing rate. This soil will no longer be able to support any growth until it receives this addition. This fertilizer then flows off the enormous megafarms, into rivers, lakes, and, eventually, into the ocean, making the situation much worse for the environment.
The presence of this chemical causes an increase in the development of algae, which suffocates aquatic life and contaminates drinking water. The city of Cleveland's Lake Erie has recently been the victim of fertilizer runoff. The algal bloom that resulted caused a huge dead zone in Toledo, Ohio, and contaminated the city's drinking water supply. And in the ocean, these dead zones may be up to 8,000 square miles broad – the equivalent of the state of New Jersey – and contain hundreds of thousands of tons of dead fish and other marine life. But there's more to it than that. It takes more than simply fertilizer to maintain big harvests in intensive agriculture; it also need a significant number of insecticides to do so. These substances cause cancer in humans and have a negative impact on fertility. However, they also have the potential to alter natural ecosystems and perhaps wipe out whole species.
Pollinators such as honey bees and butterflies have been particularly severely affected by the drought. We would have no crops if pollinators were not there. If there are no crops, there will be no food, and eventually no people. All of this sounds rather gloomy, doesn't it? We do, however, have an option if we act quickly. There is just one option: either we shift quickly to more environmentally friendly agricultural techniques and eating patterns, or we will perish.
It is now clear that the mechanisms that previously assisted us in overcoming widespread hunger are no longer working.
It was widely expected that new farming methods and agricultural chemicals would result in an abundance of crops throughout the mid-20th century, and this proved true. Eventually, world hunger would become an unthinkable situation. The Green Revolution was the name given to this phenomenon. In a lot of respects, it was a success. Large-scale agriculture unquestionably contributed to the reduction of hunger in many areas of the globe. This utopian ideal, on the other hand, has now ran into severe difficulties. The most important lesson to take up from this is that the mechanisms that previously assisted us in overcoming widespread hunger are now failing us. It's possible that the Green Revolution was well-intentioned. However, it left us with a slew of issues.
In the last note, we addressed the harm that it has done to soils, water, biodiversity, and the climate, among other things. A side effect of the agricultural revolution, however, has been the production of an excess of processed food, which is rich in calories but poor in nutrients. Unfortunately, the Green Revolution has fallen short of its primary goal. It did not result in the abolition of global hunger. Theoretically, we generate enough food to feed the whole planet right now. However, every night, 800 million people go to bed hungry throughout the world. This is due to the fact that so much of what is produced is utilized as animal feed in the profitable beef business, converted into biofuel, or otherwise discarded. The world's needy just don't have access to all of this food, for a variety of reasons.
Another result of the Green Revolution has been the creation of genetically modified foods, often known as GMO foods. Despite the fact that many experts believe they are completely safe, there has never been a definitive, unanimous consensus on this. And there is one aspect of genetically modified crops that is unquestionably harmful. It is this over-reliance on pesticides and herbicides that has resulted in the creation of ‘superbugs' and ‘superweeds,' which are organisms that are resistant to chemical pesticides and herbicides. Farmers themselves are responsible for yet another failure of the Green Revolution. Despite the promises of stable livelihoods, the revolution fell short of expectations. Even Dr. M. S. Swaminathan, the father of India's Green Revolution, has confessed to this flaw in his scholarly papers, despite the fact that he is widely considered to be its architect.
What caused this to occur? Simply said, big agribusiness and greed are to blame. As a result of the exorbitant cost of fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides – all of which they purchase from large companies – many farmers have fallen into financial distress. This is particularly true in India, where the situation has deteriorated significantly. Since the 1990s, there has been an alarming increase in the number of suicides among indebted farmers. In a sad twist that highlights the horrible human effects of large-scale agriculture, several people committed suicide by ingesting pesticide. So, that's the bad news for now. What can we do to effect positive change? We'll search for solutions in the following notes, which will be posted here.
Food that is beneficial to you is also beneficial to the environment.
As consumers, we have the ability to communicate via our forks. The decision to consume some food kinds and reject others puts pressure on large agricultural and food companies to alter their practices. Moreover, the good news is that it is possible to choose a diet that is both nutritional and ecologically beneficial. There is a clear message here: food that is healthy for you is also healthy for the environment. To begin, you should consume a large amount of veggies and entire foods that have been produced in a sustainable manner. Check to see that the carrots you consume haven't been sprayed with glyphosate herbicide or other potentially harmful chemicals. Take care to ensure that your grains were grown in a manner that is environmentally friendly and does not deplete our freshwater supplies. But what about animal products like as meat, fish, and dairy? Let's take a closer look at each of them.
We'll start with a piece of beef. A large number of dieticians advise against consuming it. In addition, reducing one's consumption of meat is highly recommended. Whenever possible, meat should be served as a side dish, with vegetables taking up more than half of your plate. However, it is not as straightforward as just stating, "Eat less meat to preserve the environment." In fact, meat produced in a sustainable manner may potentially contribute to the answer to climate change in certain ways. Combine grazing with organic vegetable cultivation, for instance, and the results may be amazing. Natural soil enrichment is provided by grazing animals, which eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers. Eating meat that has been grown in this manner, therefore, may contribute to the development of a more sustainable agricultural system - provided, of course, that it constitutes a modest portion of your overall diet.
Second, there's fish. Choose fish that has been caught in a sustainable manner, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and is low in mercury. Avoid eating big, unsustainable species that have a high mercury content, such as tuna, swordfish, and halibut, which are all rich in mercury. In place of this, you should consume more anchovies, mackerel, and salmon that has been fished wild. Last but not least, dairy. In general, it's better to stay away from it. However, if you must have dairy, be certain that it is 100 percent grass-fed and organic in origin. And, if at all possible, try to consume and drink goods produced from sheep and goats rather than those obtained from cattle. Due to the fact that, in most cases, the method we rear cattle is detrimental to the health of cows as well as to the environment and people.
These are just guidelines. We are, nevertheless, all unique. Each of us has a unique set of requirements and prerequisites. While looking for food that has been produced in a sustainable manner, we need also pay attention to our bodies. If we can find the proper balance in this area, we will be able to eat healthily for both ourselves and the environment.
Despite the fact that food lobbyists are very strong, government action against damaging companies has the potential to be successful.
The dominance of big business is one of the most significant impediments to dealing with the proliferation of unhealthy and unsustainable food. Legislative lobbyists throng the halls of power, bribing government officials and offering anything from gifts to campaign contributions in exchange for their cooperation. This has resulted in the demise of a great deal of progressive legislation. However, there has been some success in standing up against corporate dominance in certain parts of the globe. The most important lesson here is that, despite the fact that food lobbyists are very strong, government action against damaging companies may be successful. Chile is one country that provides an example. Santiago-born doctor Guido Girardi was elected to the country's senate in 2006 after a successful campaign. As a result of his personal experience with the health issue, he resolved to take on the food business and its predatory marketing tactics.
So, what exactly did he do? To do this, he enlisted the help of nutritionists, who worked together to write what he dubbed "The Food Labeling and Advertising Law." Despite strong resistance from major food companies, Girardi's legislation was ultimately approved. This law had a number of eye-catching provisions. It required food businesses to post warning labels on goods that have excessive levels of sugar, salt, saturated fat, or calories, among other things. It was therefore decided that the employment of cartoon characters to advertise junk food to youngsters would be prohibited. Corporations were no longer permitted to promote junk food on television between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., and all junk food was removed from school lunchrooms. Last but not least, the government required food businesses to alter their advertising in order to include messages about physical exercise and good eating in them.
The initial effects were nothing short of spectacular. Children started to urge their parents not to purchase junk food because they were sick of it. It was discovered that the law was four times more successful than any other food tax or policy in the past when the consumer data was made public. An other successful policy initiative was the soda tax, which was proposed in the United States by economist Larry Summers and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Despite the efforts of the strong beverage industry to prevent it from being adopted, the tax was eventually imposed in Oakland, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, among other cities. It had the desired effect of reducing soda consumption. However, the money it produced was used to fund the construction of public schools and leisure facilities. When individuals saw these schools and leisure facilities in person — genuine, tangible outcomes – their support for the tax rose substantially.
As a result, despite the vast resources and political influence of large agriculture and Big Food, governments and legislators may make significant strides forward by presenting well-considered and popular arguments. In the next section, we'll look at what farmers can do to help.
Regenerative agriculture is essential for a healthy world and for the health of its inhabitants.
We've just seen what governments can do in terms of transforming the way we eat. But what about the folks who produce our food and maintain our land? What are their perspectives? To prevent public health crises and environmental disasters, farmers must reconsider their farming practices and practices in general. This entails using a technique known as "regenerative agriculture." Agriculture that emphasizes environmental sustainability while producing nutritious, organic food is referred to as biodynamic farming. The most important lesson to take away from this is that regenerative agriculture is essential for a healthy world and healthy people. Above all, soil is the most important component of regenerative farming.
At the moment, we're trapped in a life-threatening loop. We are depleting the organic life that exists in good soil. Then, in order to get anything to grow at all, we have to refill it with toxic fertilizer. This is not sustainable, both for ourselves and for the environment. So, how can we cultivate without depleting the soil's nutrients? First and foremost, farmers must transition to so-called "no-till" farming techniques that do not damage the soil. It is preferable to use seed drills to limit the damage done to the soil rather than plowing it and upsetting its delicate equilibrium. This will improve soil health and aid in the retention of rainfall. Healthy soils are considerably more effective in retaining water. Second, farmers should rotate and mix their crops on a regular basis, enabling the soil to recuperate between harvests and seasons. Additionally, disease and pests are less likely to flourish on consistent, homogeneous crop production.
Then, as we've previously seen, farmers must reconsider the role of animals in their operations. Consider the case of cattle raised on organic farms. Cattle graze on the land, fertilizing the soil with dung, urine, and saliva. Naturally stimulating plant growth, improving root structure, and increasing soil fertility are all benefits of this practice. As with the bison that have roamed the American plains for thousands of years, cattle have evolved to live in a symbiotic relationship with their environment and with flora. The success of this approach demonstrates that following nature's lead is the most reliable means of developing healthy and sustainable agriculture.
Finally, one of the most damaging aspects of contemporary agriculture is the over use of fresh water. However, there is a glimmer of optimism in the distance. Some farmers have discovered that a technique known as "dryland farming" may effectively address the issue. This entails cultivating crops without the need of irrigation. Instead of plowing their fields after harvest, these farmers leave the stubble in the ground and then plant a fresh crop directly into the residue.. Evaporation will be reduced if the roots and stems of the plants are kept intact, and the field will collect more precipitation and blowing snow than if the plants are left naked. By implementing these techniques on a wider scale, we can divert our attention away from our present course and toward a greener, healthier future - a future that is better for people, animals, and the environment.
All throughout the globe, new and innovative agricultural techniques are being developed.
Climate change and unhealthy eating are becoming more popular topics of discussion across the globe, and some farmers are taking matters into their own hands. These farmers are the trailblazers and trailblazers are the innovators from whom many others will take cues. The most important lesson to take away from this is: All throughout the globe, new and innovative agricultural techniques are being developed. A guy from Guatemala named Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is in the head of the movement. He is the creator of Main Street Project, a unique kind of chicken farm that produces only organic eggs.
Agroforestry is the term used to describe what Main Street Project accomplishes. Amid their instance, it entails growing free-range chickens in forests of hazelnut trees, which is a relatively new concept. This is something that resembles the beginnings of chicken, which was as a jungle bird in the wild. This method has produced many additional advantages and by-products as a result of cooperating with nature rather than fighting it. For starters, the trees provide natural shelter from aerial predators such as hawks and buzzards, which are common in the area. The greenery also provides protection from the sun for the hens.
Furthermore, due to the abundance of natural food in the forest, farmers will not be need to spend as much money on outside feed sources. It is possible to cultivate legumes and grains alongside the hens. Furthermore, since the hens consume a large number of insects, they serve as a natural pest management. This implies that pesticides will no longer be used. The hazelnuts themselves may then be sold to augment the income of the farmers, who can then sell them with the eggs or hens. Finally, the nuts that have fallen to the ground and the chicken droppings fertilize the soil and provide nutrients for the other crops.
Farms like these are living ecosystems in and of themselves, and they are fully self-sufficient. Farmers are no longer cultivating monocultures, which are harmful to the environment. Instead, they concentrate on growing a variety of crops at the same time while also creating a diverse natural habitat surrounding them. This is something that no pesticide-saturated cornfield or intensive dairy farm could ever hope to accomplish.
The spirit of Main Street Project is also something that many farmers might take a page out of their book. Despite the fact that the chicken farm is lucrative, it is not motivated by a desire to maximize profits in the near term. Farmers like Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin are acutely aware that, without sustainable farming, there would be no habitable earth from which to profit in the future, and they are working hard to achieve this goal. As a result, they organize their techniques under a manifesto that states that agriculture must be successful on three levels: environmentally, economically, and socially.
It is everyone's benefit when the aim is to restore human and environmental health rather than just to earn money. This method is preferable for the farmers, who benefit from a work environment that is safe, pleasant, and full of resources. It's better for the chickens, who will be able to spend their lives as if they were wild birds. There are less negative effects on the ecosystem, which may thrive without being sprayed with toxic chemicals. Finally, it is better for all of us - not just a few.
The primary theme of these notes is that the Western diet, with its ultra-processed foods and intensive agriculture, is harmful to both humans and the environment. As a matter of fact, it is at the heart of so much of what is wrong with the world today. As a result, eating and farming more sustainably must be the starting point for resolving the major problems of our day. In order to achieve this objective, governments may exert pressure on large agriculture via progressive laws, while farmers can embrace new and regenerative farming methods to reduce their carbon footprint. Advice that can be put into action: Encourage your local allotment growers to continue their work. It's probable that if you live in a town or city where there are allotments, you'll be able to locate local farmers who will gladly deliver fresh organic food right to your front door. Sign up now! Please provide your support to them! Consume their fare!
Written by BrookPad Team based on Food Fix by Dr. Mark Hyman