Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eating Local Not Always Healthy

MIT: Eating Local Food Is the Key to Solving Our Obesity Epidemic
Posted by Tara Lohan at 7:45 AM on November 11, 2009.

Sometimes it takes more than Michael Pollan to get through to people. New research from MIT about how locally grown foods can reduce our obesity problem is welcome news. Right now Americans are getting bigger and bigger -- between 1980 and 2006 obesity among teenagers grew from 5 to 18 percent; and 7 to 17 percent for pre-teens. These gains are contributing more to the onset of diseases like type 2 diabetes, strokes and heart problems, writes Peter Dizikes of MIT News Office.

A group of MIT researchers found that what's driving our obesity epidemic is "our national-scale system of food production and distribution, which surrounds children -- especially lower-income children -- with high-calorie products." Precisely what folks in the pro-food/local foods movement have been saying for years. And it makes sense considering the shocking figure that 90 percent of American food is processed according to the USDA, Dizikes highlights.

Thankfully the researchers didn't just stop at pointing out the obvious, they offered a solution:

America should increase its regional food consumption. Each metropolitan area, the researchers say, should obtain most of its nutrition from its own "foodshed," a term akin to "watershed" meaning the area that naturally supplies its kitchens. Moreover, in a novel suggestion, the MIT and Columbia team says these local efforts should form a larger "Integrated Regional Foodshed" system, intended to lower the price and caloric content of food by lowering distances food must travel, from the farm to the dinner table. Read More

I think there are many people out there, including Michael Pollan, that think every “foodshed” can produce enough food and a variety of foods for the people that live there. But what this article advocates would translate into my family living on a mostly all beef diet. As much as I love eating beef, I don’t want it to be the only thing I eat at every meal. I want my children to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which won’t grow in our climate and soil. To advocate for eating a local-only diet is to advocate for some people to eat an unbalanced, unhealthy diet.

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