What stops us from staying healthy
Nirmala Nair, the founder of The School of Practical Sustainability, in Cape Town, is the keynote speaker at a community dialogue
on The Future of Food at the Entabeni Conference Room in Durban on Saturday, August 5, from 9.30am to 1pm. Nair and other experts will discuss the agricultural landscape
of South Africa, food security and yogic farming among other topics. She writes about: What stops us from staying healthy? The
politics of food, farming and markets
IN AN INCREASINGLY globalised world, life has been reduced to a mere act of consumption.
Along with this obsessive consumption, life-sustaining acts such as farming and food have been subjected to the onslaught of consumerism.
We no longer produce food in a life-enhancing way that understands nature, farming and food production as an integral part of life.
Instead we produce for the market, empty-caloried, junkfood that keeps us on a perpetual low-energy mode.
It is a hidden truth that the food we consume no longer sustains a wholesome life as most food is designed to create more hunger, so people will be forced to buy more.
It hardly satiates hunger. Instead it sustains the market.
Food addictions and cravings are thus very much part of the new food fad, culture of manufactured junk food.
Today, food is simply a packaged commodity, a means of convenience, a “grab-and-eaton-the-go’ product.
When food is reduced to a “commodity’ and produced on a large-scale, a globalised and industrialised manner, there is something at stake – our health.
While we are being brainwashed that we need to mass produce to feed increasing millions of starving people around the world, we are not being told the real truth.
We need to change the way we produce food.
We need only a fraction of land to produce all the food we need to feed the world.
Massive expanses of land for food production are necessary only if we continue to produce in the current industrial scale techno-farms.
So the real question is, can we change how we produce our food?
Intensive integrated food forests can be a diverse and abundant source of food and local livelihoods, while regenerating our forests and soil systems.
But such productions will not serve the forces that are minting profits through scaled-up industrial food production and processing along with their minions – the global retail food chains.
The toxic chemicals, fertilisers and insecticides used widely in farming, add another layer of complication to our ever declining health scenario.
If current farming methods are depleting our soils and water resources as well as our diverse eco-systems, the food processing industry is slowly degenerating human health through reckless use of colourants and preservatives.
Glitzy supermarkets use the “sales” gimmick to attract vulnerable sections to spend money on food that does little to help health or hunger.
Sales tactics are designed to psychologically manipulate innocent consumers, playing havoc on their senses through artificial smells and chemically concocted fragrances that tempts consumers to buy products that are not really needed or wanted.
Take-aways, sweet drinks and sugary products served with meals have become a symbol of affordability and class.
TV dinners are becoming the standard food ritual, replacing food rituals that have, across human history, been a way to connect and strengthen community ties and social interaction.
With no real food to feed, no real social connection other than social media, no wonder people of today are increasingly alienated, depressed, addicted and express violent behaviours.
We are increasingly becoming the victim of our own modernised, globalised food culture.
While we can be proud of our technologies, modern development etc, the increasing incidents of illness – disease and pathological behaviour is a constant reminder that something is not right – our food habits, along with our farming practices, are slowly unplugging us from a life of true well-being.
While we cannot change such a pervasive system overnight, becoming aware of the pervasiveness along with our role in this deception drama is very critical.
Each and every one of us consume food.
Can you imagine how powerful a role we can play, if only we are able to act as agents of change.
With one step at a time, what we put into our bodies by becoming aware of many things, not simply the brand of supermarket or what is written on the label.
Simple acts such as growing food or supporting local food growers are within the means of everyone, if only there is a will to change, take our power back, be on the road to wellness and well-being of our own choice (not imposed by health and nutrition adverts).
The brand of packaged wellness sold to us from global wellness industries, simply making us stay disempowered and diseased.
Can we imagine the ground-breaking change ordinary people can have on turning over a new chapter in the annals of modern food history if we take our power back to eat healthy and eat locally?
Starting our own gardens and supporting local farmers is a recipe for a healthy lifestyle, says the writer.