Personal health + a healthy environment

When I was presenting this blog as my final project for my International Public Health class, I got the question of why I had chosen this particular name for the blog. Initially, I just thought of a plant-based diet and how it’s not only good for one’s health, but also for the environment, and that was it. But in the process of the project, and also just by doing my own research, I realized that the name is a really appropriate word to describe what is needed to be at good health, namely one’s environment, and the food one chooses to consume. There are certainly a million ways that one can express and define health, but in the way that I think about it, this really hits the spot, even though I’m not too keen on how the word “envirodiet” sounds. I don’t like it, to be honest. Maybe it’ll grow on me, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s easy to remember, which is a plus if I want to tell someone about this blog.

Anyhow, I wanted to elaborate a bit on this view of health that I have. The diet part is simple enough – you are what you eat. The environment part is more complex, and it is not separate from one’s diet, because even though one might subsist on a diet that is generally recognized as healthy, that actually doesn’t say too much about whether one is obtaining all the essential nutrients in adequate quantities. One of the reasons for this is the degradation and depletion of the soil in which these supposedly healthy foods grow, and the other methods that surround their production, such as genetic modification and use of chemicals (the end result of which may be that the product doesn’t contain the nutrients that it used to, and that it may also contain harmful chemicals which may or may not cause more harm than the desired benefits of the unadulterated product). This, in turn can be attributed to for instance a very high demand, financial interests of the stakeholders, and the customer’s perceived value and benefit. A high demand means that more needs to be produced on a smaller space and more rapidly than if less was being consumed; stakeholders want customers to purchase their product, and they are more likely to do so if it is visually appealing and offered at a lower price; and lastly, customers may perceive that vegetables which contain mostly water ought to be rather inexpensive.

Well… I have some ideas that may or may not make it a bit better. 1) Buy stuff that’s in season, and that is local to your area (reduce shipping and storage, both of which is bad environmental ethics and also ups the price of the product). 2) Decrease consumption of animal products (because they eat plants that need space to grow — space that could have been used for crop rotation!, and because the plants that they eat also come out in a degraded form, and when these animals don’t eat the grass they’re supposed to eat, but grains etc from plantations, what comes out is not fertilizer anymore, but pretty toxic and it goes into our soil, and into your fish). 3) Know what your stance is on relevant practices and know whether the source of your produce is in line with that. 4) Taste before you waste (which is also the name of an organization at school here that every week gives away loads of food that they in turn have been given from stores at the end of the day, that have been about to throw it away), and reduce consumption in that way.

There are so many more ways to do good. And there are so many more ways that I can connect my view of health to the name of this blog, but I want people to read, not get bored, so this is it for now 🙂 Stay grateful!

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