Weekly Newsletter: Food Is Cheaper Than Medicine

Dear Shopper,

I read newspapers, at least two every day, and three on Sundays. I also clip newspapers and save all the articles on food and health. I save most of the articles on farming and farmers and many that report on the food industry and the agencies that regulate it. And occasionally I find a really good recipe in The Wall Street Journal, and I save that, too. I spent the last week or so going through the stack from 2010. I was too busy last year to sort and file and save the links to revelations and research that may be helpful in the future — from informing a grant proposal to supporting an argument in a newsletter or giving me an idea for one!

I noticed something that I may have missed if I had been more diligent about my filing — that there were themes running through the mass of clippings and all of the papers featured stories that echoed those themes. I realized that I need to spend a little more time collecting and sifting the data for its relevance to our mission, but I feel certain there are lessons for all of us who want to stay healthy ourselves and raise healthy families.

I will get back to you with more details later, but we obviously need to be looking to improve our health by improving our intake of foods that provide those building blocks and free-radical attack dogs and essential vitamins — not supplements. Research is slowly trickling out into the public domain that many of those good things don’t work effectively in our bodies if they come in pill form. They just don’t or can’t perform their assigned functions unless we eat them in our food.

And the scientists are surprised! My mother wouldn’t have been; nor would her mother. Nor am I. My best friend’s mother used to say that food is cheaper than medicine. Remember that and budget accordingly. We need to adopt that as a national adage, and maybe then we can look at spending more on healthy school lunches and less on medicine and doctor’s visits for the young and medical care for the aging.

I have recently been involved in developing and hopefully passing some legislation in the Virginia General Assembly to encourage local school systems to purchase more locally grown produce from small Virginia farmers; each of those words is critical to the incentives we seek to include in the wording of the bill. The major hurdle, of course, is still going to be money; it will cost a little more to pay a farmer for his or her own produce. What I want to see is the research that demonstrates how much a dollar spent on healthy food saves us in dollars spent on health care down the road. Not to mention what we would save on vitamins. The answer may be somewhere in that pile of clippings — I’ll let you know. If it isn’t, I will just have to keep on reading and clipping until it shows up.

Something to think about. See you at the market!