The Supply of Healthy Food is Shrinking, and It’s the Biggest Threat to Our Nation's Health6 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
I came across this story about a remarkable, young woman named Joy Youwakim. She recently grew 20 pounds of produce, including radishes, eggplant, bell peppers, cucumbers, and cantaloupe, on top of an inactive landfill.
Now before you turn your nose up at the idea of growing your own food, well, on top of trash essentially, tests completed on the food she grew confirmed this food was safe to eat and void of harmful bacteria, like salmonella and listeria.
For Youwakim, supplying a source of food in such an innovative, and some might say unappetizing, way was not about seeing if she could carry out some crazy experiment. She was addressing a major nationwide issue: food insecurity.
According to recent data from Feeding America, 40 million Americans struggle with hunger (including more than 12 million children).
Youwakim reportedly used just a 200-foot patch of land in the inactive landfill to grow all of that produce.
“If Youwakim expanded her efforts to include all 390 acres of the landfill, she would be able to grow enough food for over 8,000 families,” according to one report.
“There were more than 6,000 inactive landfills in 2012, which roughly amounts to over 2 million acres of unused land. If implemented nationwide, Youwakim’s experiment could spell the end for food insecurity.”
Now, around the same time I came across this story, I also found another article discussing a study which suggested there may not be enough fruits and vegetables in the world for us all to eat healthily.
So while many of us may not be food insecure, we may be at risk of being what I would call “healthy food insecure.” The study analyzed global agricultural production and predicts that in 2050 the world population could reach 9.8 billion. And it appears there will be plenty of grains, sugar and fat for people to consume, but there will not be enough fruits, vegetables and proteins.
Researchers arrived at this prediction based on the current amount of land being used for farming and what the needs would be with our growing population. Not to mention, we do not currently appear to be producing enough of the healthy foods.
“They found that we now produce 12 servings of grains per person instead of the recommended eight; five servings of fruits and vegetables instead of 15; three servings of oil and fat instead of one; three servings of protein instead of five; and four servings of sugar instead of none,” according to one source.
This is very unsettling news, because we all need plenty of fruits, vegetables and healthy sources of protein in our daily diets to stay healthy and help prevent the development of disease. These foods are nutrient-dense, meaning they contain critical nutrients like vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C and E, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and folate. And we need an adequate (but not excessive) amount of these essential nutrients to be our healthiest.
It is also estimated that more than two billion people globally have one or more nutrient deficiencies. And nutrient deficiencies are associated with some very serious health issues such as depression, obesity and other metabolic issues as well as cancer.
Combine this with other hurdles in food production we have previously discussed, including poor soil quality, rising CO2 levels and farmland being used for luxury homes, we’ve got a major issue on our hands.
So How Else Can We Be Proactive?
Aside from the worldwide environmental and farming debacle, many of us have nutritional deficiencies due to aging, taking prescription medications and having gut health issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
But before you start scanning the supplement aisles at the grocery store, take a nutrient test to determine which nutrient(s) you might be deficient in. Then consult with a competent healthcare professional about an appropriate diet and supplementation where appropriate. These specialists will identify nutrient imbalances and recommend quality supplements to meet your nutritional needs. Not all supplements are created equally, but a competent professional can help find one that is best for you.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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