Too Much Food (Originally Posted May 15, 2012)

Too Much Food

Posted on May 15, 2012

Do you ever stop and wonder why Americans seem to be getting bigger?  What’s so different now?  On Monday, the NYT reported one theory to the obesity epidemic – too much food  Mathematician, Dr. Carson C. Chow has concluded that the biggest change in our diet over the past 30 years is the amount of food we consumed. Furthermore, Dr. Chow theorizes “The epidemic was caused by the overproduction of food in the United States.”

So what does this mean?  Dr. Chow states:

“Beginning in the 1970s, there was a change in national agricultural policy. Instead of the        government paying farmers not to engage in full production, as was the practice, they were encouraged to grow as much food as they could. At the same time, technological changes and the “green revolution” made our farms much more productive. The price of food plummeted, while the number of calories available to the average American grew by about 1,000 a day. “

And, as you can imagine (and maybe know firsthand), if there’s extra food around, most people tend to eat it.  In my opinion it feels like we’ve gone from a need to eat for energy and nutrition culture to a need to eat because I deserve it culture.  Now I think of myself as somewhat of a foodie and I really can’t imagine just eating for sustaining purposes only.  To me eating is fun, interesting and exciting.  The process of preparing a dish, choosing the ingredients or even picking a restaurant is a favorite pastime.  But somewhere along the way we’ve lost touch with what it means to eat and nourish our bodies for energy, nutrients and enjoyment.  Instead we eat anything and everything without pausing to understand and respect the impact our choices will make on our bodies, our families and the environment.

In addition, I think this gap has a lot to do with where our food comes from and our connection (or lack of connection) to it.  I wonder if we depended on community farms and we saw and experienced the growth and harvest process if we would connect differently – if we would consume differently.

I’ve been thinking about the role nutrition plays in my life for several years now.  And I’m not perfect.  I fall into traps like most everyone else.  But every year I take another step forward to my goal of eating the types and quantity of foods that make me feel physically and mentally as strong and healthy as I deserve to feel.  The types and quantities that are right for me might be very different for you, as they should be.  For example what I need now is very different than what I needed while I was pregnant.  The key here is listening to your body.  Let go of the media blitzes and trendy fads and take time to listen to what works best for you.  I really believe that if you can find the time to do this your intuition will be your best guide forward.  My guess is, if we all did this, we would probably eat a little less.

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