There seems to be a renewed awareness and discussion of the intimate connections between your health and decisions made by others — in government and private business — about how to grow food, use of chemical pesticides, industrial products, and more. (Of course some individual decisions, such as eating junk food or living a sedentary lifestyle, also have a direct impact on your health! )
But the only thing that’s new is that people are talking about it again. The interconnectedness of life was depicted in Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac… (1949) and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) showed the widespread and tragic effects of DDT and other persistent chemicals that accumulate in living creatures. More recently, we have Theo Colborn’s Our Stolen Future (1996) and Sandra Steingraber’s Living Downstream… (1997), which spell out the devastating effects of the widespread pollution with endocrine-disrupting & carcinogenic compounds. All are well worth reading!
And don’t forget that legislators and regulators make decisions that allow these harmful chemicals and processes, literally permitting these industries to cause illness and death. How do they justify allowing the use of chemicals and processes that make people sick, cause birth defects, harm children, and kill people? Why do we allow them to hurt so many people!? Closer to home, why do we allow schools to cut recess and serve junk food in the face of an obesity epidemic?
The Fall 2012 issue of Yes! Magazine includes several articles that do a pretty good job of showing the different ways that our individual health is not just the result of our own decisions but a product of the systems in which we live: