Friday, December 12, 2008

Healthy Food = Healthy Planet and People

For many years I have tried to educate the public on many wellness-oriented issues. More exercise and healthier eating have always been top topics. As we move into the green economy, there is a unique opportunity for us to add another layer to healthier eating.

As a first priority, we want to eat food that is good for our bodies -- everything in moderation. Less meat, more veggies and fruits, more grains, and drink more water. This is a huge task for most. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans have a tough time just trying to eat a balanced diet, not eating too much, moderating the amount and kind of snacks, and getting regular exercise on top of that. This will, inevitably, always be an opportunity for education.

But, if you are doing a fair job at eating right, you are also probably doing more to read labels and personally educate yourself on food options. This has also likely translated into your understanding that eating more organics is also better for you. This is the opportunity for another layer to healthier eating -- more organic food produced and eaten translates into a healthier planet and healthier people. (Update: The Rodale Institute has issued a press release this week and accompanying report detailing how "Organic Farming May Be the Best Route to Global Food Security.")

There are also some packaging issues to pay attention to -- reducing your contact with BPA and other chemicals that may be in the packaging of certain foods -- which can also equal healthier planet and people.

Many companies that produce our food are interested in providing the masses with healthier and more organic options. Largely this is due to consumer interest. But also it has been a business interest because more sustainable and safer agricultural and manufacturing processes give these companies --
  • A future -- more organically grown food enhances the soil and insures that our planet can keep on producing food that people will want to buy, thereby insuring that a business can stay in business
  • Less liability -- as consumers become more aware of unsafe or unhealthy manufacturing processes, the companies who are in the process of changing (or already have changed) for the better can avoid these liabilities and increase their market share by leaps and bounds

It's important to note that there are currently virtually no companies out there who are perfect. As much as you or I would love to have a perfect world, it is not. And although I may push companies to do the right thing and blog about the ideal, the reality is that all of us are inching along. Doing what we can. And on good days with the right circumstances we are able to really make progress. The good news for consumers is that most of today's companies have smart and conscientious people at their helm who are trying to do the right thing.

The even better news is that these companies have a more heightened awareness than ever before about consumer wants and needs. If you would like to see a different or better kind of product or process, let a company know. Its leaders will probably listen like never before. And you will likely see a change for the better -- sooner than you might imagine.

As we move into 2009, we will see the Obama presidency settle in. His cabinet and advisors will be fully hired. Hopefully his administration will make good on campaign promises that affect our food, our health, and our environment. If done right, this will be the kick in the pants that all of us need, including agriculture and energy, to make changes that will benefit everyone -- even the businesses that have to make those changes.

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