Seriously, What the Health?

WiseTribe held a community screening of What the Health at the Arts Garage for this month’s #wisemeatlessmonday potlucks.  This was possible thanks to our local sponsors. We appreciate Integrative Acupuncture and JuiceBuzz sharing their health wisdom and facilitating a community conversation on modern food, our health, and empowering citizens for change.

What the Health is the buzzy new documentary which delves into the complex and oftentimes alarming ways meat and dairy affect the human body — often leading to chronic illness and even death. The documentary has been criticized for cherry picking studies, featuring only animal-friendly medical professionals, and obscuring the truth on nutrition (as if anyone knows what the Truth is these days).

Whether you agree with the documentary’s takeaways or not, one thing is for sure: everyone is talking about it. This alone is raising awareness of our industrialized food problem and stimulating mainstream thinking on the connection between food and disease, which is desperately needed.

The Costs of Overproduction & Overconsumption  

America is a hyper-consumptive, hyper-convenient culture and we’re in the midst of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease epidemics. These diseases are driven by the kinds of food we eat, mainly meat and junk food, and in the quantities in which we eat them. Production of these foods has been supported by government agencies at the expense of a more health- and Earth-friendly diet.

The crushing healthcare cost in the US is simply not sustainable. It is a matter of time before the links between diet, healthcare cost and a decline in economic growth become obvious. As our economies become automated and robots become the dominant source of production, governments will be forced to shift their thinking away from traditional GDP measures to metrics based on health and well-being of citizens.  Mortgaging poor health will no longer be a profitable option.

Healing & The Hippocratic Hoax 

The documentary heavily spotlights that our system of health is not one of healthcare but of ‘sickcare’ and exposes financial links between food companies and major medical advocacy agencies.  The point is made that the motive for their relationship is not to eradicate disease but to perpetuate and manage it, banking on the billions to be made by keeping people sick.

One discussion participant brought up a 1940’s film called the Hoxsey film which addressed how healing people ‘alternatively’ became demonized by organized medicine. The methods of Harry Hoxley, a former coal-miner with an herbal recipe for allegedly curing cancer, eventually were suppressed by the 1950s after the political clout of the AMA silenced him by labeling him a “quack.”

As the “why” for one of our sponsors, JuiceBuzz believes that food is medicine and the Earth provides everything we need to heal. This belief lies at the heart of many indigenous and ancient teachings though we’ve divorced ourselves from this thinking in favor of outsourcing our understanding of health to big pharma.

As we were reminded by Kim Marrone, co-founder of Integrative Acupuncture, The Genome Project revealed that only 5% to 11% of our health is determined by our genetics.  Diet trumps genetics though, despite this major scientific revelation, nutritional education is not a requirement of medical students. Nutritional training is opposed by organized medical interest because of the ‘time’ required of doctors, as the documentary showed.

Citizens Empowerment

What the Health makes a strong case that the USDA is not our ally and that the strategy isn’t to keep us safe through regulatory measures but to create doubt in health claims which sustain profits for big food and big pharma.  

As we’re in a moment of deep distrust of public institutions, we must ask ourselves how we’ve outsourced so much personal responsibility concerning our health to the government and what citizens can do together to right public health through nutrition.

From our discussion, the following ideas were generated toward what the community could do locally to empower ourselves as part of our #wisefood initiative:

  • Up the political conversation with State Representatives concerning food regulations
  • Push for healthier food options for schools
  • Start a Community Supported Agriculture locally
  • Start an organic food cooperative
  • Enroll local restaurants in participating in Meatless Monday

If you’ve got additional ideas for empowering the health of citizens and things we can do locally to collaborate in increasing the health and well-being of our communities, we’d like to hear your ideas.

American History of Modern Food 

This TED Talk by NY Times food journalist, Mark Bittman, does an excellent job of breaking down how we have arrived at this place as he takes us through the history of food in the United States. It is interesting, informative, entertaining and worth 18 minutes of your time. 

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