By Rick Davis, founder of the eatlocalgrown project
For the first time in history, chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancers and others kill more people than communicable ones! And here's the crazy part- to a large extent they are preventable!
Unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity are leading causes of disability and loss of independence. Almost two-thirds (61%) of American adults are seriously overweight or obese. Obesity rates in children have doubled over the last two decades—14% of children and 12% of teens are now obese. According to the USDA, healthier diets could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs, lost productivity, and lost lives.5 That is an underestimate because it accounts for only diet-related coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes and not other diet-related diseases. Obesity alone is estimated to cost $117 billion in medical expenses. Additionally, according to the CDC, state and federal governments spend one thousand times more to treat disease than to prevent it ($1,390 vs. $1.21 per person each year).
"This year, more than 1 million Americans and more than 10 million people worldwide are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, a disease commonly believed to be preventable. Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle."
Source: US National Library of Medicine
Leading Causes of Death in the United States (2010)
Heart disease: 597,689
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
Alzheimer's disease: 83,494
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364
Food is Health Care, Medicine is Sick Care
Your diet has a huge impact on your current health but also has a lot to do with how exposed you are to developing a chronic disease later in your life. The good news is that there are choices that you can make right now that can have a positive healthy impact! As Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivores Dilemma says "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." If you haven't read Pollan's books, I highly recommend them. His writings are the reason I started eatlocalgrown.com
Another of Pollan's books, In Defense of Food shows us how, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, we can escape the Western diet and, by doing so, most of the chronic diseases that diet causes. We can relearn which foods are healthy, develop simple ways to moderate our appetites, and return eating to its proper context — out of the car and back to the table. Michael Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.
This may be over-simplifying things but the the best way to combat diet-related diseases is to just change what you eat.
So how and where do you start? For me it was a combination of 2 things- I started by reading lots of books and then I began going to the my local farmers markets and meeting the people that were there selling food. It's a great feeling to really get to know your farmers. It probably feels natural because it's the way that humans have bought for many of thousands of years! We either grew our own food or we bought it directly form someone that grew it. Only in the past 100 years or so have we shifted away to more industrialized food production. And with that came the onslaught of chronic diseases we see now.
A 'Real Food' Challenge
I challenge you to get out and meet the people that grow food near you. Fruits and veggies are easy to find but there's also great people that supply very healthy grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured chickens and turkeys and delicious pigs too! And don't forget to get some pastured chicken eggs while your at it, the difference between these eggs and the ones you find in the supermarket make them seem like a completely different product.
We created the eatlocalgrown project to help you find local food near you. To get started just enter your zip code and hit search at the top of the page. If you see a listing for a business you know, please take a few seconds to give them a nice rating! And if you notice we are missing anyone it's really easy to Add A New Listing.
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