People wonder – why do you teach about nutrition and the food system?
We wonder – how can you even start to talk about nutrition, without first taking a serious look at the system in which your food is produced and sold – is it starting with healthy soil, plants and animals? Is it being produced and sold by people who think maintaining the inherent flavor and nutritional value of a food is as important as the profit they can make selling it?
We have found, when it comes to teaching “nutrition”, we almost have to UNteach, all the confusing nutrition messaging that exists – talk of low-fat, no-fat, high protein diets; labels promoting sugar free, lite, natural, reduced sodium foods… When did food get so confusing anyway?
Why do we talk about the food system?
Because our food system has changed.
As one of our Mission High Students explained,
“It used to be like, you just go in the back yard and get a chicken and eat it.
But now all the food is made in machines.”
Yep. That’s pretty much it.
Only 100 years ago, we were eating mostly fresh, nutrient rich foods, grown and produced right near our homes. Today, we eat more refined and processed foods which, tend to give us a lot of calories and additives, but fewer of the nutrients we need to keep our bodies and minds healthy.
People ask, “but isn’t healthy food expensive?”
To that we say – take a look at another part of the food system, yes, the health and pharmaceutical industries. Try adding up the cost for medical treatment for diet-related illnesses. Does organic milk cost more than a month’s supply of heart medication?
While its our choice, to eat the foods we want – and food company giants like to remind us “any food, when eaten as part of a balanced diet, can be healthy” – the kind of foods that have become most readily available and (seemingly) affordable to the average person, are these heavily processed, less healthy foods. The corporations producing them just keep profiting.
We’re all for profits. But let’s help those growers, producers and suppliers who care about your health, and the health of the food system, to increase their profits so they can continue to bring us the healthiest whole and processed foods.
As we say to our students – your food dollars are your most powerful votes. Use them to vote for healthier food, and a more sustainable food system.