Food, of course, is important for our existence, but here are 5 reasons why your food matters.
1. The Cost of Your Health
Each time you shop for food, you are making an investment in yourself. The food industry is a business, and their goal is to be profitable. You can either pay for your health upfront now with food, or to the doctor, pharmaceutical, or insurance company later.
To put it in perspective, here are some numbers about how much is spent on chronic illnesses in the US each year.
|Heart Disease||$214 billion|
Hard pass, I think I’ll spend my money on our $40/week local CSA share.
2. Nutrients in Food
Animals and plants that are raised, nourished, and processed in a healthy way affects its nutrition. If we raise and grow our food in toxic conditions, we produce toxic food. And if the food we eat aren’t getting the nutrients from the diets we provide them, they will lack nutrients as well.
We are literally what we eat AND what our food eats.
If our cow eats corn, corn will show up in our body. What’s the problem with this? A few things:
- Cows that are fed a majority of grains and not grass, are higher in omega-6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory especially when not in balance with omega-3.
- Cows are also ruminant animals meaning they are meant to eat grass and not a grain like corn. Cows that are fed corn are more prone to liver abscesses, bloat, FATAL bloat (that’s right, they can DIE from too much gas produced in their stomaches from corn), and E. coli infections that can infect humans and soil (ever wonder what all those spinach recalls originated from??).
- Corn is highly genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides ________
Similarly, if our vegetables aren’t grown in healthy soil, they and you will lack minerals. This is a problem because who wants to eat vegetables and NOT get nutrients from it? If I’m going to eat, I want it to be as nutrient dense as possible. More bang for my buck and bite.
Currently, the US has no laws requiring producers to replenish the soil after it’s been depleted of nutrients. Your best bet to combat this is to eat local organic from a farmer who is a steward of the soil or buying food that is certified Demeter Biodynamic.
3. Your Family and Their Health
For most people, your family’s health is just as important than your own health and sometimes we even prioritize their health over ours.
Here’s a couple of stats unique to the US that we should be less than proud of:
- 1 in 5 children are considered obese.
- In 2018, there were about 1.5 million new cases of diabetes in the US.
- Of that 1.5 million, 210,000 of those new cases were children.
Why wait until our kids are adults before they learn about the direct connection between food + health? Why wait for someone else to teach our children about it? Why wait for the consequence before we make changes that break lifelong habits?
I once watched the story of a 50 year-old man admitted to the ICU for DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) play out over several weeks. At the time, he was the same age as my dad, who had recently been diagnosed with diabetes, which is why I think the story has always stuck with me.
I watched the grief of his family in his comatose state, unsure if he would ever wake up and unsure of how they would adjust now that the household breadwinner couldn’t work + the eventual medical bill that was to come. I then watched as he slowly went in for procedure after procedure. He survived, but when he left, he had lost both of his legs, was blind, and needed dialysis for four hours three times a week.
Talk about stress…the worst part is that this isn’t uncommon. This was the first time I saw something like this happen, but in my 10 years of being in the hospital, it definitely wasn’t my last.
Knowing where your food comes from gives you the opportunity to set an example and teach your family how to care for themselves so that they create healthy habits alongside you and for their future. Here’s the best part: You don’t even have to be perfect to teach your family AND you don’t have to have all of the answers right away. The fact that you’re here reading this is a pretty good start.
We are in a time where parents are outliving their children–an event no parent wants to ever encounter. If you’re waiting for someone else to do the job of prioritizing food + health, let me save you some time. Nobody’s coming. Not the school, not your doctor, not the government. It starts with you in your home.
4. The Environment
Earth is everyone’s home. Sounds hippie, I know (thank you), but as of right now, no matter who you are, it’s our only place to live.
Many agricultural practices have contributed to increased air pollution, toxic waste contamination, and over-farming. The most common form of farming is called mono-culture, which is an unsustainable practice–meaning we are depleting and destroying our home faster than we can rebuild and replenish it.
These agricultural practice problems are not just problems don’t just affect the farms and surrounding areas, but affect the entire food system + more, including our future generations. The food industry has a direct affect on the environment, and it’s important to do our part and raise awareness to preserve it. Some words we can look for include “permaculture”, “biodynamic farming“, and “regenerative farming”.
5. Your Relationship with Food
Knowing where your food comes from and how it got to you is not always fun or easy to stomach, but it plays a major role in our respect for food and our bodies. When we can appreciate the effort it took to get our food to us, we can cultivate gratitude and positivity.
When you have a balanced relationship with food, you feel better. If you feel good, you have the ability to spread that to those around you. Seems like a small event, but still significant. Now imagine if everyone felt 1% better.
On the other hand, when we feel bad, anger and negativity can spread. Scrubs puts it best:
You’re the only one who can shift your perception of food. That’s an awesome power to have.
Okay, you might be thinking, “Cool, I can see why my food matters, but how can I make a difference?”
Good question! Since it starts with you in your home, so start there. What kinds of food are you surrounding yourself with? Fresh local organic foods? Processed foods? Half and half?
You can start by reading the food labels and Nutrition Facts on each package.
Check out this post to learn what Nutrition Facts are and how to read them.
Want to make better food choices?
Hi, I’m Melissa!
I’m a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner dedicated whole foods nutrition and helping people make better food choices easy so they can find + meet the right health goals for their bodies.