In the past few years I have learned a tremendous amount of alarming information about the food industry. The market has become so strong that while the food we are being fed is essentially killing us, we are “actively” participating by buying and eating it. Who is to blame then, as our health and wellness weaken while our weight and pounds keep adding on?
For many of us our access to food usually frames the choices we make on a daily basis, as living next to a Whole foods grocery store as opposed to a Dunkin Donuts would drastically change the food one would buy. In the article Moving out of high-poverty areas may lower obesity, diabetes risk the aspect of environment is studied as a leading factor in contributing to obesity, as stated by Troy Blanchard Ph.D.
“This provides evidence that it’s not just the individual’s decisions, but…also the environment — the neighborhood — that really does matter”
The study followed families who participated in a program called “Moving to Opportunity” which moved families from pockets of high poverty to low poverty and proved to show that:
“Rates of diabetes and severe obesity [were] about one-fifth lower in the women who moved”.
The author goes on to suggest that it is not moving out of low poverty environments but the resources and activity within the community that need to be addressed. This phenomenon is closely linked to the attitudes and opinions revolving around the issue of “concentrated poverty’ that we have been disusing in class. The idea is that instead of focusing on the behavior in any given community one must look for the root and cause of the behavior, as in this case which reveals the relationship between access to food and personal nutrition. The responsibility then shifts, and we can see that its not just the consumer who needs to be held accountable but the McDonalds who is setting up shop across the street.
As debates about health care continually mark our political and social conversations, it is questionable why these debates are not associated with our food industry as well. The documentary Forks over Knives, the trailer is shown below, shows how diet is the cause of our health problems. The cure is found in simply shifting to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which does not only decrease our chances of developing health conditions but in some cases even reverse the signs of health problems such as diabetes. The documentary illustrates that our country is the sickest country in the world, all due to our diet.
The troublesome and apparent way that this issue has become so deeply imbedded into our lives is evident by the fact that while many of us know this information it feels nearly impossible to implement better choices. For myself the most convenient and frequent choices concerning food that I make do not resemble the diet highlighted in the trailer for Forks over knives. Besides the fact that I drink green tea, specifically because of its health benefits, I do not consider myself health conscious, and yet here I am writing a post on nutrition.
So then, is information about nutrition the most important element in changing the statistics on obesity and health conditions? Or is it the structural dynamics, the lack of preventative medicine, the lack of convenient access to health food options, and an industry in which bombarding us with advertisements and availability create this reality for us?
Nevertheless, while it is confusing to know how to go about changing these trends, within the midst of this confusion I find an element of empowerment because there is a clear and definite solution to the problem. So while we may not necessarily know how to solve the problem, we already know the answer. I remember a math teacher telling me once “work backwards”, maybe thats exactly what we need to do.