This is a guest post by Iris Thieme
Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” I have learned through my studies on nutrition that you have to dig a little deeper to find the truth. Headlines and abstracts in scientific studies don’t always tell the whole truth. If I had been informed in my earlier years about some of the things I have learned, would I have done anything differently then? I’d like to say that because I know better now, I do better now.
In one of my nutrition courses, I was assigned to make a video or write a public service announcement regarding the impact of our current standard American diet (SAD) on our planet. I share some of the not-so-fun facts that I have learned in my studies. Many of the statistics were taken from various lectures either at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition or eCornell. The hope is that as you read these statistics, you desire to do better because you know better!
- In 2017, the United States spent about $3.5 trillion on healthcare, which is more than twice the average developed country (to put this into perspective, if you spent $1 every second, it would take you 32,000 years to spend $1trillion!)
- 80% of this cost goes to treating chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, which are all attributable to diet and lifestyle.
- 1/3 of Americans are obese – projected to be 50% by 2030
- Every 40 seconds, someone in US has a stroke!
- Today, 1 in 5 children and teens are obese
- The 5 leading causes of death among teenagers:
- Accidents (unintentional injuries)
- Cancer (in 2015, the leading cause of death in children under 15 was cancer)
- Heart disease
- The food and beverage industry spends approximately $2 billion per year marketing to children.
- The fast-food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children.
- 75% of US farmland is used to grow corn and soy to feed the livestock!
- The same amount of land used to raise feed and livestock for one person per year could be used to grow plants for human consumption and feed 14 people per year.
- To produce 1 pound of beef, it takes about 1200 gallons of water -enough water for a family of four for a year! In comparison, to produce a pound of lettuce, potatoes, or wheat it takes roughly 25 gallons of water and 49 gallons for a pound of apples.
- Roughly 90,000 cows killed per day in the US for food
- For each pound of beef, about 16 lbs. of grain are used to feed the cow, (16 lbs. of grain could feed 32 people).
So, what can you do? By eating whole foods (not processed), mainly plants, you can be the change you want to see in your country and our world! It has been proven that by eating less meat, dairy, sugar, soda, and other processed “junk”, you dramatically lower your risk for chronic disease and save precious resources that we may lose if we are not careful.
While watching the docuseries, “Our Planet”, I noticed that the narrator often said that if we change the behavior that is damaging our planet, it is remarkable at how quickly it is replenished, and the damage is reversed.
Mark Bittman, a columnist for the NY Times, predicts that 50-100 years from now we will be eating 100% organic, local foods – either because we choose to or because we are forced to by some catastrophe.
The bad news is, it seems we are headed for catastrophe, but the good news is that the number of people choosing to change for the good is growing each day! Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in our world.” Are you willing to be the change you want to see?