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How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet – One Bite at a Time
- Read in 15 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 9 key ideas
Food Fix (2020) shows us how the world's gravest problems, like chronic disease, inequality, and climate collapse, can all be traced back to our food and the way we produce it. Here, American physician Mark Hyman describes what we should do next, setting out the path to healthy eating and regenerative farming.
Key idea 1 of 9
The gravest problems we face as a species can be linked to one thing: our food.
Sometimes it feels like the world is coming to an end. Scroll through any news feed, and you’ll be confronted with emerging crises, rising death rates, and new conflicts. There’s a new famine. Cancer deaths are increasing. The polar ice caps are melting. Bees are dying out.
If you were asked why there seems to be so much alarming news, “food” probably wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind. And yet, food is at the heart of it all.
The key message here is: The gravest problems we face as a species can be linked to one thing: our food.
Let’s consider some of the most severe crises facing us and the planet.
First, our health. Shockingly, our diet is the main cause of death, disability, and suffering in the world. Over the last 40 years, our eating habits have changed beyond recognition. We eat more and more ultra-processed and sugary foods, and these have contributed to a rapid increase in heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. These diseases now kill nearly 50 million people a year. They are more than twice as deadly as infections. This health crisis was entirely preventable, but it has already cost us trillions of dollars.
Second: inequality. Children raised on ultra-processed and sugary foods suffer from malnutrition. This stunts their intellectual development, and thus they may grow up underachieving, driven into poverty, homelessness, and crime. Bad food makes the whole cycle of inequality exponentially worse.
Third, let’s look at communities in the developing world. They suffer disruption from big agribusinesses and from corporations that the author labels Big Food. These behemoths drive people from their land and destroy their homes and traditions, all the while encouraging harmful dietary and farming habits.
Last but not least, the way we produce food is endangering the planet. Big agribusiness is the single biggest contributor to climate change. It clears precious CO2-absorbing habitat and destroys healthy soils. It does more damage to the climate than all of our fossil fuel companies combined. Intensive farming methods also soak the earth in dangerous fertilizers and pesticides, killing vast amounts of our wildlife and creating huge “dead zones” in the oceans.
Traditionally, we have considered these problems separately, putting “bad diet” in one box and “climate change” in another. But they all have one focal point: food. So to solve them, we need to take a broad, holistic approach. Before we define it, let’s consider these problems in more detail.