Live Well
April 2017

On the Need for a New Vision of Food

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’ve been listening to UC Berkeley’s Edible Education 101 Class. One of the speakers – Dr. Bruce German, from the UC Davis Institute for Food and Health – made an interesting point in his presentation. He noted that, in the early 20th Century, we used chemistry to define the world around us, including food. Approaching food and health in this manner failed to take into account the complexities of human beings, other organisms and ecosystems.

In the early 20th Century, much of scientific research surrounding food promoted the notion that food could be reduced to its component molecules. From there, scientists could alter foods by adding or taking away specific compounds that were considered beneficial or detrimental to our health. But this idea is flawed and has misled us in our quest to eat well and stay healthy.

The notion that food can be reduced to the compounds and elements that are nourishing is false because it is reductionist. Specifically, it fails to take into account the fact that all living things are complex systems that are more than the sum of their parts. You can’t just strip things to their basic components and think that will have the same result as the whole. Food affects us in ways that go beyond just its basic nutritional content. This is why it is so important to eat a diet rich in whole, real foods. Processed foods, which are made by refining flours, sugars and other ingredients and then, occasionally fortified with vitamins and minerals don’t have the same health benefits as their un-processed counterparts.

Our new vision of food – one that has slowly been evolving – is one that needs to be holistic and takes into account the complex world we live in, down to the smallest bacteria. We need to support ecosystems in which food is grown by supporting healthy soils, clean water and clean air. Similarly, we need to support our own bodies by nourishing them with a diversity of foods, rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant nutrients).

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Upcoming Events
march-for-science

March for Science, April 22, 2017 and
People’s Climate Movement, April 29, 2017

If you are interested in food and health, then you are – by definition – interested in science and climate change. Scientific research enables us to learn more about foods impact our health in both positive and negative ways, and how our bodies are affected by the foods we eat. Scientific reasearch is also critical in finding solutions for modern-day health epidemics. Similarly, climate change affects agricultural production and food security.

Therefore, I urge you to attend the March for Science on April 22, 2017 and/or the People’s Climate Movement on April 29, 2017. According to organizers, “The March for Science is a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community” and the People’s Climate Movement “is a project of over 50 organizations working together to solve the climate crisis and address the growing pollution of our air and water, while also assuring the creation of good jobs in our communities.”

For more information, check out:
www.marchforscience.com
and
www.peoplesclimate.org