"Let Thy Food by Thy Medicine"
I grew up in the Midwest, in what used to be a thriving farming community, in a household of women who loved to cook. Grandparents and ancestors on both sides of my family were small farmers, in the US and other countries. "Everything in moderation" helped them and their families stay relatively healthy. The advent of and easy access to processed foods, however, replaced much of the whole foods and the whole communties that sustained us.
When I started graduate school for a Masters Degree in Education at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, I never knew how my life would change once I discovered and started researching food and farming issues in the U.S and all over the world. I finished a second Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, and have been researching environemental food and heath issues now for over 20 years. These issues have become a national and global health crisis.
Many of us know the story too well: Like many families, mine is now affected by diseases like early onset dementia, Alzheimer's, "diabesity," early onset heart disesase, arthritis, colonitis - the list goes on - all in large part due to a diet high in processed foods, including (white and other) sugar, flour, hydrogenated fats, not to mention environmental toxins, etc.
Our physical and mental health as well as our emotional health, and that of the ones we love, are all directly affected by what we choose to put in our bodies. And in making these choices, knowledge is power. And we do have the power to choose what we put in our bodies, and to be advocates for the people and the land that provide healthy food for us.
There can be no overstatement that food is medicine for the mind, the body, and the spirit. Food, and the preparing and consuming of food in community, is some of the best, and the most delicious, medicine. We must continue to learn about and call for integrity in our food systems. We must make the conscious decisions to source as much food as possible from local producers and to grow our own gardens, as well a support fair and direct-trade initiatives in the rest of the world.
When we do purchase an "indulgence" like chocolate, we need to think about how and where it's produced and by whom. Is our purchase contributing to our health and well-being and that of the people and land where it originated? What then does money actually truly mean when making informed choices/purchases?
Health and well-being are life-long journeys that require a willingness to take responsibility for the decisions we make. Do we choose to continue to learn, and to practice self-care and self-respsect, while appreciating the journies of others? From there, we must be willing to change what no longer serves us. We can all thrive on large healthy doses of community, enjoyment and fun in the process.