Norman Rockwell: Freedom from Want, Public Domain
"Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have."
― Winston Churchill
Thanksgiving is a holiday everyone can get behind. Food, family, and a four day weekend with a bit of history to establish the tradition. The roots of Thanksgiving can be traced back to biblical times. Exodus specifies the Harvest Festival requirements as well as the Festival of Ingathering, both acknowledgements of the tangible, essential blessings God has bestowed through agriculture. Thanksgiving is now also increasingly a weekend of football, Christmas shopping and making the Candle Tea swag. This space has been focused on various aspects of food in 2017. Eating is a sensual pleasure that every person must undertake daily to remain healthy. What we eat matters a lot to the health of our body and the health of our planet.
As we approach Thanksgiving 2017, let us reflect on the daily act of putting substances into our God given body and what that means for the glory of God. Eating food is one of the most basic human endeavors and is a cultural norm that unifies God’s Creation. We all have to eat.
"No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means."
Cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death in America and new research indicates that two-thirds of cardiovascular deaths could be prevented by eating a diet of healthy foods (nuts, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy products, eggs, fish and poultry) and/or avoiding unhealthy foods (fatty and/or processed red meat, foods high in sugar, salt and trans fat). Research published in the last month indicates that childhood obesity has risen ten fold in the last 40 years. Left unchecked, a majority of children and adolescents will be obese by 2022, just five years from now.
Eating decisions of the human population also affect the health of our planet. Climate change is a very real threat to the very existence of life on earth. Global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions. A primary contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to our atmosphere is the business of the livestock sector. Meat production produces more carbon dioxide than all transport concerns combined while simultaneously being a significant source of land and water degradation.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
What is a 21st century Moravian to do? Perhaps we should make Michael Pollan an honorary Moravian for giving us a concise motto when it comes to diet: Eat food, mostly plants, not too much. In this context, Pollan defines food as largely unprocessed fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts and some meats. Other important ideas include growing our own, eating local and sourcing from sustainable sources. Meat produced in a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), which is almost all the meat readily available in the American supermarket, is stained with the practices employed by CAFOs that produce it: unfair practices inflicted on the growers, unfair subsidies not available to farmers of fruits and vegetables, air, water and land pollution, animal cruelty, product laced with antibiotics and hormones which then leach into our water, inhumane slaughterhouse working conditions, ruination of communities where the CAFOs are located and the perfect petri dish to create the next pandemic. We individuals have little influence in this system that has been created through the political process and insulated by the wealthy corporation owners who are the beneficiaries of these practices. Cheap meat is not cheap. All endeavors come at a cost. The most important weapon we have is the way we spend our food dollars. This year our family will be trying a free range, pasture raised, GMO free heritage turkey raised humanely in Madison, NC at KW Homestead http://www.ourochreway.com/about-kw-homestead/. There are other turkey farms in the area as well, including Asgard Farms in Gibsonville: https://asgard-farm.com. We have not patronized these business before and cannot endorse them specifically.
Choosing to fuel our bodies with the healthiest foods we can find maximizes our health outcomes, improves our quality of life and reduces our dependence on the health care system. Good food can be thought of as medicine. Pay now (at the grocery store or the farmer’s market) or pay later (at the hospital). May all God’s Creation be free from want of healthy food. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
"The first wealth is health."
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Submitted by Helen Bushnell Beets for the Earth Stewards Team
Edited by Don Frey, Elizabeth Harris and Rick Sides