Saturday, 29 September 2012

Supersized vs. Super Skinny – The Real Life Edition

The local food movement has made the rounds on bumper stickers and blogs and become a poster-child for the fight for local farmers and economies, but it is an important movement for more reasons than most people think.

The concept of our current 'food culture' is an interesting one, and our transition from eating for nourishment to eating for pleasure is expository. If food is meant for nourishment and sustainability, how did it become a multi-billion dollar industry? The fact that in 2005, according to, the wealthiest 20% of the world was responsible for over 76% of total private food consumption is equal parts shocking and shameful. Current food consumption patterns are an example of something that seems normal and harmless, but when examined in a global context makes very little logical sense. We have managed to create a world where obesity is a problem on one end of the world and famine is a problem on the other? The over-consumption occurring on a large scale in most developed countries is devastating in many ways beyond just issues of weight and physical health.

Our current society has a huge preoccupation with food, and it is especially dangerous to sustainability because it is so easy to overlook. Food is obviously necessary to sustain human life; therefore we are going to continue consuming food on a daily basis. But what is not needed is the type of food that we are eating or the amounts that we are eating of it. Not only is it bad for your waistline, it is bad for nearly all necessary components of a sustainable world.

Extreme amounts of packaging create hugely unnecessary and unhealthy waste. A globalized food industry ensures that food is transported across the world to reach North American markets where local farms could easily deliver the equivalent – and usually additional – nutritionally sound foods. Eliminating the amount of imported foods and instead relying on locally produced fare would sustain our bodies while also sustaining local economies and the environment. The data proving that there are increased levels of vitamins and minerals in locally produced fruits and vegetables compared to those produced non-locally is an issue of its own. 

It has become normalized to be transfixed by the lure of large portion restaurants, processed goods, and imported foods, and food-culture in general.

Something meant to keep us alive has become a commercial enterprise benefiting only those in areas able to consume it; we eat our takeout oblivious to the approximately 925 million people worldwide who do not have enough to eat. Overconsumption in developed countries versus malnutrition in developing countries. The answer seems obvious.

Instead of taking the things we are fortunate enough to have for granted without fully thinking about their impact, think about the everyday things you eat and do, and ask yourself if it makes sense from a world perspective. Because even if you don’t think your single action makes an impact, it does.

Eat what you need; nothing more, nothing less. Eat locally. Support farmers. Buy from bulk stores and make your own storing units with reusable containers. Avoid packaging wherever possible. Compost. Be accountable for the consequences that your actions have on the world. Individuals do make a difference, and a group of individuals make a community. And sustainable communities make a sustainable world.

I have very recently started trying to eat locally and attempting to limit my direct waste. I'm hoping this blog will help keep me accountable as I document the experience. 

Check out No Impact Man, one of many people participating in this kind of healthy living, and one of the inspirations behind my attempt to become more aware of the beautiful world that I live in and my impact within it.

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