Future Food = Fat, Traditional Diet = What?
|February 4, 2014||Posted by Staff under Health|
These two 2014 excerpts of IRIN are from Jan 15, on the wrong, modern diet by Elizabeth Blunt, and Jan 23 on the right traditional diet.
Future Diets and the World’s Expanding Waistlines
Food in the United States is cheap, abundant, varied and tasty, but it might not be all that good for you – too much fat and sugar have led to 36 percent of Americans being diabetic and 46 percent obese. Japan’s food, by contrast, is much healthier, but it’s extremely expensive and not as varied.
At the bottom end are countries like Chad and Angola, where food can be unaffordably expensive and not very nutritious. It can also be quite dull. In Madagascar, 79 percent of the food eaten comes from grains and starchy roots, with very little meat, fish, fruit, or vegetables.
Some of the unhealthiest diets of all are in places like Fiji and Mexico, where more than 40 percent of adults are not merely overweight but obese.
Combined with moving to the cities, having less time to cook and leading less active lives, the dietary shift has brought expanding waistlines and an epidemic of ill-health. The number of overweight or obese people in the developing world tripled between 1980 and 2008.
For governments wanting to nudge their country’s transition in a good direction, there are policy levers available. They can ban, ration, or tax unhealthy foods, subsidize more nutritious ones, regulate manufacturers, or try to educate the public.
Information campaigns have not proven very effective. Food subsidies are expensive and rather out of fashion. Banning runs into trade treaties.
A combination of regulation and heavy taxation has been used to reduce smoking, with some success, despite resistance from the tobacco industry. Mexico, which has woken up to the severity of its health problems, introduced a tax on sweetened drinks at the beginning of 2014.
Turning to Ancient Diets to Alleviate Modern Ills
Nutritionists say many traditional and non-processed foods consumed by rural communities, such as millet and caribou, are nutrient-dense and offer healthy fatty acids, micronutrients, and cleansing properties widely lacking in diets popular in high- and middle-income countries.
Indigenous diets worldwide – from forest foods such as roots and tubers in regions of eastern India, to cold-water fish, caribou, and seals in northern Canada – are varied, suited to local environments, and can counter malnutrition and disease.
The disruption of traditional lifestyles due to environmental degradation, and the introduction of processed foods, refined fats and oils, and simple carbohydrates, contributes to worsening health in indigenous populations, and a decline in the production of nutrient-rich foodstuffs that could benefit all communities.
In recent years, grains such as quinoa, fonio, and millet – long harvested by indigenous and rural communities in developing countries but increasingly overlooked by a younger, richer generation that prefers imported foods – have instead grown in popularity in developed countries.
Another so-called superfood now declining in popularity is spirulina, scientifically known as Arthrospira platensis, a type of cyanobacteria that grows in ponds – a staple in many traditional food systems, such as among the Kanembu in northwestern Chad.
Medical studies have found that spirulina has the potential to boost immunity, reduce inflammation, decrease allergic reactions, and provide a healthy source of protein.
Deforestation worldwide, often to make way for large-scale agricultural production, curtails the nutrients that can be gathered from forests.
Ed. Notes: Everything needs a place. If people are to hunt and gather and cultivate using sticks, then they need their own habitat. But now such people don’t have the power to retain their habitat. More societies are accepting absentee ownership (by domestic insiders or foreign corporations). Most governments are subsidizing agri-business. And people everywhere tend to view the new and the First World as superior to the old and the undeveloped.
The key to solving all this is to have government not impose its own policies but do what governments are supposed to do and that is defend rights; i.e., don’t subsidize any growers but recover and disburse the value of land, including urban land. Where owners can’t keep rent but must pay it, there they don’t speculate and don’t amalgamate land holdings into sprawling fiefdoms. Instead, they take no more than they can use and use that wisely.
These Land Dues and rent dividends are the key policy components of geonomics and where applied they bolster owner occupancy and that reinforces diet rationality.