Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Go Green Where It Counts Most

Where were you on April 22nd, 1970? Do you remember anything at all about the day, or were you even alive at the time? I remember it well, because I was a sophomore in high school, sitting in our auditorium taking part in the first-ever Earth Day. This environmental teach-in educated the nation about ecological issues confronting us, and since that time the green and sustainable movements have gained momentum.

Sustainability quite simply means the capacity to endure. We’re all aware that recycling, water conservation, driving low-emission cars, and using alternative transportation help keep our planet viable. However, there’s a major problem confronting society that must be rectified in order for green environmental practices to have any real meaning. The issue of primary concern should be human sustainability. We are evidently failing – for the first time in over 200 years, the current youth of America will live shorter lives than their parents. Why? It’s because of the accelerated rate of childhood obesity that in turn triggers the early development of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. If we have lost our capacity as human beings to endure, then we defy the very meaning of sustainability, regardless of how many milk containers we recycle, or whether we choose paper or plastic bags at the grocery checkout.

Everyone needs to get involved in finding solutions. Here are some – I’m sure you can think of others ways you can help:

• More farmers should use methods that promote increased nutritional quality of the foods they grow. Research proves that foods grown sustainably contain more nutrients than those grown conventionally;

• Government agencies could restructure crop subsidy programs so that junk foods are not cheaper than those of high nutritional quality;

• Food producers and manufacturers should avoid methods that strip nutrition and add calories to our food;

• Marketers should stop targeting children who haven’t developed the ability to distinguish advertising from reality. Kids routinely watch TV by 2, and, not coincidentally, they develop brand recognition skills by the same age. Recent research identifies that a child’s tendency to become obese is also established by age 2, with strong food preferences developed by 5. On a typical Saturday morning watching children’s TV, there is a commercial for “junk” food every 5 minutes;

• The food service industry should place healthy options and nutritional information on restaurant and school lunch menus;

• The medical community must begin treating the causes of chronic disease, and stop just putting band-aids on the symptoms;

• Finally, we all need to become more responsible with personal health, and be good role models for our kids and grand-kids.

I’m all for keeping Mother Earth thriving for a long time, but what sense does it make to march our kids down graduation isles wearing caps and gowns made from recycled materials, if they are destined to die young?

The author submits this blog posting as a health educator and not in any other capacity. You should seek the advice of your physician regarding a personal health condition or before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.

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