“Food matters” is probably the understatement of the year. Some of us are vegan, and some are carnivorous; some strive for a traditional, nutrient dense diet, and others follow a macrobiotic regime. But I think we all want food that is tasty & nutritious, food that is produced without toxic chemicals so it doesn’t harm us or others, and food that is produced without slave labor or exploitation.
“Healthy and sustainably-grown food is as essential to the health of our community as the medical care we provide.”
—Dr. Siobhan McNally, Berkshire Medical Center
The following points are taken from a leaflet we used at the Bethlehem VegFest and other local events. We publish them here as a reminder of a few of the many reasons to pay close attention to the food we eat. (Many of them were developed by students in the Alliance internship program.)
- ‘Conventional’ farming with artificial chemicals is not conventional at all—for thousands of years, all food was grown naturally!
- Artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and preservatives are carcinogens & endocrine disruptors — even minute quantities are toxic to people & animals and are known to cause reproductive disorders and birth defects.
- Most produce from the industrial system actually contains toxic pesticides in the food you eat—you can’t wash it off.
- Eggs from pasture-raised chickens are higher in beneficial nutrients and lower in cholesterol.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports lower nutrient levels in ‘conventional’ food.
- 75–80% of antibiotics are used to promote growth in animals raised for food, causing or contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Organic farming produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions and actually sequesters carbon in the ground.
- Some of the cacao used to make conventional chocolate & cocoa is produced using children who were sold into slavery—and both Hershey & M&M Mars are implicated.
- FairTrade not only protects against abuses like child slavery but allows producers to afford education and health care. (And most FairTrade foods are also organic.)
- Up to 80% of commercial products contain GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) that have never been tested for long-term health & reproductive effects! The U.S. does not require GMO content to be labeled, but GMOs are not allowed in food that is certified organic.
- And, of course, naturally-grown food tastes better!
Students in the Alliance’s internship program prepared several reports on food and its connections to health & sustainability – Why real food is critical for sustainability and your health:
- Impacts of Industrial Agriculture on Human Health – a student research report
- Healthy Food for Healthy Communities – an examination of the health impacts of food and institutional food services
- ‘Organic Is the Answer…‘, an essay by Maya Rodale
[published in the 2011 edition of Sustainable Lehigh Valley]
- Campus Food – Is it sustainable & Healthy?
Note: Some of these reports are also available in printable PDF format.