I recently watched the documentary Forks over Knives, about how food can be our most important medicine. It’s a GREAT documentary, and I was reminded of how important what we feed ourselves is to our own health and the health of the world around us.
Sustainability is so interrelated. There’s no way to talk about sustainability in construction or any other area without including the rest of our lives. Such as where our food comes from and how it affects us.
Food is such a universal thing, kind of like breathing! It’s relevant to everyone, and I’m a big fan of talking about things that are fundamental and go beyond any cultural, geographical, political or religious barriers.
The documentary was great because it addressed in depth the scientific findings that two different doctors had found (without wanting to find them) regarding how bad our Western diet is for our health. We have become so accustomed to treating the symptoms of our problems rather than the root of our problems, and our diets are often at the root of our diseases.
The two doctors, completely independently of each other and over the course of decades, consistently found that diets high (20% or more) in animal protein, were actually turning on our cancer genes. They also found that plant-based, whole foods diets with 5% or less of animal protein could actually reverse cancer growth and heart disease that had been activated. And aside from the effects on our health, meat production requires 10 times more energy than plants (not to mention that our animals are now being mass produced as if they were plastic bottles instead of living creatures!).
The doctors’ findings were really fascinating. I won’t go into more statistics or details in this post, but if you get a chance to check out the film or the book, The China Study, that the film was based on, I think it’ll really make a difference in how you see nutrition and modern medicine.
This is old news, but with Alabama being second in the country in childhood obesity and other diet related health problems, it’s so important for us to have better access to fresh, healthy food and to educate ourselves about how to use food to enhance our health, rather than using it to slowly poison ourselves.
(Which is sometimes easier said than done! Chris and I decided after watching the documentary that we would try eating a plant-based whole foods diet for a month and see how we felt. It wasn’t too far of a stretch from what I was already doing, but the next day all I could think about were French cheeses and Milo’s hamburgers. So I still eat meat occasionally. I have to listen to my body and find a way to balance my rebellious psyche with my health!)
When it comes to education and fresh, healthy food, Jones Valley Urban Farms is one community garden that has been a front-runner in this movement. Their current mission statement is “helping Birmingham grow organic produce and healthier communities through urban farming and education.” Since the garden’s beginnings 10 years ago, they have had an unwavering commitment to reuniting our communities, reconnecting people to food, educating our families on the importance of health through nutrition, and encouraging sustainability through agriculture that actually revitalizes our land instead of destroying it.
I was fortunate enough to interview Rachel Reinhart, the program director at Jones Valley regarding the role that she sees the garden playing in the community, the programs they offer, why she thinks it’s important, and what we can do to help.
I really appreciated her insights, and soon I’ll be sharing the interview with you! But in the meantime, eat your veggies!