Being the nerd that I am, I gobble up any and every book I can get related to our health, habits, and how we can live better. It’s a broad topic so I’m sure you can imagine there are TONS of books out there!
However, I’ve found one that connects all the dots… and even if it’s not all, it’s enough of them that I can say it’s already one of the most comprehensive books I’ve read on the topic. And I say already because I’m not yet done with the book, but with as much information as the book covers, I was too excited to wait until I’ve finished it completely.
The book I’m referring to is Dr. Mark Hyman’s newest book called Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet – One Bite at a Time.
Uhhh… yeah. Told ya it connected a lot of dots!
I mean come on! Health, economy, community, planet… why not just save the universe while we’re at it!
But in all seriousness, Dr. Hyman does a beautiful job of connecting the dots of food and the massive impact it has on us as individuals, in our communities, countries and the world. And like I said, I’m not even done with the book yet!
Just in case you’re thinking it’s all doom and gloom, it’s not. He does a fantastic job of not only telling us the grim facts as they stand, but ways we can change them so it doesn’t have to be our destiny. That’s why it’s called Food Fix instead of Food Failings or something along those lines. He’s making it his mission to help change the food landscape, and subsequently our health, economy, community and planet.
To me, one of the superpowers of the book is bringing together stats and details from so many aspects of life into one book to paint the picture of just where we are… and how bad it currently is.
So to give you an idea, here are a few of the stats I found to be most profound and impactful when describing our current food situation:
- “Two billion people go to bed overweight.”
- “One in two Americans and one in four teenagers have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.”
- “$95 trillion is the total cost of chronic illness to the United States over the next 35 years in both direct health care costs and the loss of productivity.”
- “Global cost of obesity [is] at $2 trillion a year.”
- “Your risk of death from heart disease [is] 31% higher if you consume two sugar-sweetened beverages a day. Every extra drink causes the risk to go up by another 10%.”
- “Processed foods make up about 60% of our diet!”
- “For every 10% of your diet that comes from processed food, your risk of death goes up 14%.”
If you’re not blown away and ready to run through a brick wall for food reform, I’d be surprised. Even just typing out all those stats at once made me both mad and sad at the current state of our food system.
I don’t know if he specifically states it in the book, but the reason we’ve been unable to fix the food system is because it’s a monstrosity – HUGE! There’s everything from government policy (which I’m sure we all know how big of a mess that is just by itself), to environmental concerns, to costs/economic concerns, to health concerns, and the list goes on.
So even just fixing one aspect of the food system still leaves it ripe for corruption, negligence and mismanagement in other areas. And by no means am I putting the blame on one person, thing, or even organization. The whole thing got so far out of our control before we looked up to say, “oh shit, what have we done.”
It all began with the best of intentions – to make food and food production cheaper so we could feed more people.
And while that’s a valiant goal, we just put our heads down and got to work instead of evaluating the long-term consequences of the decisions and advancements that were being praised.
There’s no going back to fix those past decisions and policies, but we CAN fix it going forward by getting educated on just how influential our food and food system is to us as human beings.
We’ve Lost Touch
I touched on it briefly above, but I think the real reason things got so out of hand was because we lost touch with our food. Everything became matters of convenience and cost rather than the true value of food as medicine, love, and culture.
TV dinners in front of the “boob tube” replaced sharing recipes and the communal ritual of making and sharing a meal together. Only when we place those experiences back on the pedestal will we be able to fix our food system. Until then we’re quite possibly spinning our wheels.
Even so, as I continue reading the Food Fix, I’m optimistic about the future of food because I believe people want to eat well, feel well, and live well. And we can’t do that without food.