I enjoy running, and am somewhat amazed as I pause to reflect that I have been a regular runner for the past 43 of my almost 58 years. In retrospect, I realize that I was a part of the first running boom during the 1970s that was led by baby boomers and popularized by Jim Fixx in his seminal book The Complete Book of Running. In those days, runners were among a relatively small minority and were regarded by many as crazy for donning skimpy shorts and torn t-shirts while loping along the roads and trails of America.
It seems that everyone—including government, the private sector and consumers—has finally woken up to the healthcare crisis facing our country. As we are all now painfully aware, healthcare costs are spiraling out of control due to many factors, but certainly in large measure because of the worsening health status of the average American.
The 2012 FMI Health & Wellness Conference emphasized the important role that food retailers could and should play as a community based health and wellness resource for consumers. Jeremy Nobel, MD, scientific advisor to Guiding Stars, moderated a well-attended breakout session on March 20 entitled “Your Shoppers: Changing The Way We Think About Public Health By Putting Food First.”
My wife Arabella and I recently returned from a trip to Italy to visit our 21-year-old son, Macgill, who has been studying in Rome for the semester. We had traveled to Italy once before and knew that we were going to be in for some great eating experiences. We were not disappointed! What really distinguishes the local cuisine in Italy from American fare is the consistent use of fresh ingredients and the reasonable portions. Add in the fact that Italians walk more and sit less and you can see how we might learn something about health from them.
Jack LaLanne, the “Godfather of Fitness”, recently passed away at the ripe, old age of 96. Jack was an inspiration to several generations of Americans (including me) with his energetic advocacy for fitness and good nutrition on his long running television exercise show.
LaLanne’s personal story is a fascinating one. As a young child, he was sickly and addicted to sugar. He and his mother attended a Paul Bragg seminar that changed his life. Bragg described the importance of eating correctly and exercising, and from that moment forward LaLanne was hooked.
My wife and I had heard snippets in the media and from friends and colleagues about the movie Food, Inc. We finally rented it and sat down to watch it. The movie is of that genre of semi-documentaries made with a clear bias and a core message to deliver (think Michael Moore).
Nonetheless, like many people we found Food, Inc. to be thought provoking. Much of what is presented is doubtless factual, and most of it is at least mildly disturbing. Although I think of myself as someone who maintains a healthy diet and lifestyle and who knows something about food and the food industry, I was surprised to learn about the makeup of the modern food industry.
Who would have guessed that four manufacturers control over 80% of the meat industry? Or that corn and soybeans are such predominant, government subsidized crops in the U.S. that they appear directly or indirectly as ingredients in virtually every food you’ll find on today’s store shelves? Or, perhaps more insidiously, that one chemical company has a virtual monopoly on the GMO seed supply used to grow almost all of today’s soybeans?
If you’re interested in food quality and food safety for yourself, your family and your community, you may find Food, Inc. to be informative and even galvanizing. And if you’re interested in influencing how food is grown, stored, and transported throughout this great country of ours, vote with your pocketbook whenever you make food choices.