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    Healthy Food: Where Hope Begins

    December 11, 2009 •  one comment.

     •  Blog, Uncategorized

    Remember that Shel Silverstein poem?

    Listen to the “mustn’ts”, child, listen to the “don’ts”.
    Listen to the “shouldn’ts”, the “impossibles”, the “wont’s”..

    Today’s headlines are starting to remind me of that poem. It feels like the world has been thrown into a cuisinart.

    We’ve got eye-popping mortgage delinquencies, and we’ve got record bonuses on Wall Street. We lead the world in healthcare spending, and we lead the world in infant mortality. We consume more pharmaceutical drugs than any other country, and we consume more chemicals in our food supply than the cows in France. Our lives have been devalued as quickly as our homes.

    And in this headspinning mess, something remarkable is happening. We are suddenly realizing that there is more that unites us than divides us. And that is our health.

    Today, 1 in 2 minority children born in the year 2000 are expected to be insulin dependent by the time they reach adulthood, with diabetes costing us $336 billion a year (or more than $1 billion per American). Obesity is snuffing out the health benefits we saw as we quit smoking. And it’s now been revealed that all of the ‘technofood’ that we introduced into our food supply 15 years ago on a wing and a prayer and some lofty promises, have added an additional 383 million pounds of pesticide use since their introduction – or over 1 million pounds of pesticides per American.

    As science increasingly shows the impact that these chemicals and environmental insults are having on our health, is it any wonder that our health is suffering?

    And while developed countries like Norway prohibit the use of certain chemicals and synthetic additives in children’s foods because they have not yet been proven safe, we flood them into our food supply in order to enhance profitability and marketability claiming that they have never been proven dangerous.

    And as our families lead the world in rates of cancer, allergies, diabetes and Alzheimers, we are learning that we have more in common than we thought. There is more that unites us than divides us. And that we are all at this table together. And that together, we can affect remarkable change.

    Kraft formulates their Lunchable products differently for families overseas: with reduced sodium content, reduced fat content and free of certain chemicals that have been linked to hyperactivity in kids. Kraft didn’t wait for foreign governments to mandate these changes, they implemented them voluntarily ahead of legislation in order to meet consumer demand. They can do it here, too, but they need to hear from us.

    National pediatricians serve in governments around the world as Children’s Youth and Health Advisors, giving voice to the medical, nutritional and health concerns of millions of children worldwide. We can create that position here, too.

    In other developed countries, farmers growing crops free of chemicals are not charged fees to prove that their crops are safe or fees to label them as “organic food”. These crops are simply called “food” and the farmers growing the crops laden with chemicals are the ones required to label their products as “genetically engineered”.

    And while PepsiCo opens a nutrition-driven research lab and Coca Cola seeks to sponsor family physicians, we have remarkable researchers at Harvard University who highlight the impact that this industry funding has on our health who deserve our recognition and support.

    We have the solutions in front of us. We can inspire the changes that we want to see. And hope is the knowledge that change is possible.

    So, perhaps once again, we should reflect on that verse from Where the Sidewalk Ends:

    Listen to the “mustn’ts”, child, listen to the “don’ts”.
    Listen to the “shouldn’ts”, the “impossibles”, the “wont’s”…
    Listen to the “never-haves”, then listen close to me…
    Anything can happen, child, anything can be.

      One Response to “Healthy Food: Where Hope Begins”

      1. Spencer DeWitt

        This is an excellent articulation of facts, illustrating the interconnectedness of the ‘system’ that is oriented at cross purposes with the greater good of the community. We are that community. As one who believes in the gift of citizenship, this is a call to defend the sanctity of our food, our land, our water and ourselves. That is a noble endeavor. Thank you for inspiring this understanding.

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