Weekly Newsletter: Heads in the Sand

Dear Shopper,

4739083247_76c334c12d_m(1).jpgEvery now and then I like to throw out a thought for your consideration. These thoughts are usually triggered by something I have read. In this case it is two articles that were in the paper just in the last few days.

First there was an article in The Washington Post about a prediction that by 2030, 50 percent of the adults in this country will be obese. Obese does not mean grossly overweight, as we might imagine, but it does mean overweight enough to affect our health in numerous deleterious ways.

Most of the attention this statistic receives concerns those negative health outcomes, including chronic diseases and premature death. But I wonder about the effect of such a statistic on our nation’s productivity. Unhealthy people cannot possibly complete a successful day’s work as we now define it, so I am thinking that this crisis could also affect our economic output and our country’s relative wealth as well as its health.

I also read just today in The Wall Street Journal about some scary findings by scientists who are monitoring the cultivation of the new gene-altered corn crops. These seeds are designed to repel certain serious infestations, but the scientists have found evidence that instead of being eradicated in the cornfields, the bugs are returning as “super bugs” that are resistant to all known insecticides. That’s one we didn’t see coming! Or did we?

Who is going to want to insure all of those obese people? They will be as uninsurable as the Outer Banks homeowners before long. And what happens to the farmers who can no longer get a corn crop into the silo? Even those who did not plant the corn will be affected. Unintended consequences and their collateral damage — these terms are becoming as prevalent as obesity itself. Are we moving too fast or not fast enough in making decisions that affect our society?

In fact, lots of people saw these things coming. We have heard for more than a decade that we are heading toward a health crisis that will make our present health system’s deficiencies and high costs look reasonable by comparison. In doing some cleaning out of files and boxes lately I found clippings from early in this century raising alarms about both of these situations, and ten years ago official spokesmen for organizations and our government were minimizing both of these threats. Just look at the slow progression of the USDA Food Pyramid-to-Plate — you can see where these two issues merge under the umbrella of corporate farming and its political influence in this country.

Medical scientists, physicians, environmental scientists, nutritionists, reporters and writers did see these things coming. But even as these advocates for caution are vilified as radicals and un-American thinkers, it looks as if they were right. I wonder why no one is listening, and I wonder what we can do to change that at the grassroots level. There must be something we can do. If those of us who know how to prevent obesity in our own lives and families don’t take this on, we surely cannot expect those who are overwhelmed by it to lobby for change. And those independent farmers who are at the mercy of their corporate farm neighbors — who represents them?

Think about it as you buy your food from farmers and individuals who are dedicated to feeding you good food for your good health. Sounds pretty simple from that perspective, doesn’t it?

See you at the market!

Photo by puuikibeach