This is part two of our conversation with Barry Breaux, an Internal Medicine physician who is certified in Culinary Medicine about The Rhythm of Nourishment. He has written about food as medicine, and the essential role food plays in our health. Here we discuss the synergy between earth and humanity’s health.
HHE: What do you see as a holistic globally coordinated solution to our current food insecurity? Be it obesity, starvation, lack of clean drinking water, and environmental impact?
BB: I’m no expert on this topic, but I think the premise here is spot on. The scourge of chronic diseases be they diseases of abundance, poverty, or both, like obesity, are intricately tied to our food system, local environments, and global climate. “Renewable” is the key theme and must be a required aspect of any viable solutions. A few ideas that seem promising are vertical farming, regenerative agriculture, and lab-grown food. They each have unique challenges of scale, but they attempt to seriously challenge the enormously wasteful and unhealthy food system we have today, including the high levels of ultra-processed foods and synthetic ingredients that are really the primary drivers of the global obesity epidemic, in my opinion. To that end, improving the food system to be more local, organic, and regenerative could create a mutually reinforcing relationship of improved health and climate.
HHE: What are the first steps can individuals take in 2021 to shift to a less impactful diet?
BB: Treat food as medicine. Understand that the food we eat every day plays a role in all aspects of mental and physical health whether you feel it immediately or at all. Food can be prevention, food can be treatment, and food can be wellness. Don’t take your diet for granted or think as though you don’t have any control over what you consume — you do.
Understand where the food you buy and eat comes from. Even if you can’t completely overhaul your shopping and eating habits to align with global food system goals, you can identify areas where you can move in that direction (think progress, not perfection). Activism for policy change can seem daunting, but you can buy organic produce at local farmer’s markets, you can support regenerative agriculture organizations, you can create or call for nutrition enrichment programs in your child’s school or community, and you and two friends can hold each other accountable in these shared commitments.
Andrea Breaux is the Founder of Healthy Healing Eats. She writes about food-as-medicine and earth-friendly lifestyle practices. Find her weekly blog, recipes, and products at healthyhealingeats.com.