The Food We Need to Fix Us: Final Part 4

The Food We Need to Fix Us: Final Part 4

“Now is the time to take action to create a radical shift in the way we grow food and protect human and planetary health. Human health is achieved not with more prescription pills; it’s created by harmonising the system through a healthy diet and lifestyle. Health begins with food, and healthy food begins in the soil. Healthy soil is achieved not with expensive synthetic inputs; it’s created by harmonising natural systems.”

In this blog series, we’ve been highlighting issues and solutions published in The Power of the Plate: The Case for Regenerative Organic Agriculture in Improving Human Health

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3 

In this blog post, the final part of the series, we’ll focus on 9 steps we can implement to create the change.

As we’ve discussed, we need to consider not just what we eat, but also how it was produced. 

“The way our food is grown and raised impacts not only our cellular health and immune systems; it has the potential to either harm or regenerate people, families, communities, and entire ecosystems.”

The following actions can help create meaningful change in our food and healthcare systems:

#1 An emphasis on education and collaboration

  • For medical professionals: more education on nutrition. They need to be made aware of the positive impacts of an organic, whole-foods diet produced using regenerative organic farming methods. 
  • For farmers: more education on regenerative organic techniques. They need to be made aware that the food they grow has the potential to contribute to revitalised human health.
  • For consumers: more education on how nutrition impacts their health and how farming practices impact the food they eat. They need to be made aware of how their buying habits influence the quality and availability of future resources. 
  • For policymakers: the need to support governmental programmes and policies that encourage positive changes.

#2 Integrate nutritional education into medical education 

The medical curriculum should include lifestyle medicine and clinical nutrition. Active healthcare providers should have the opportunity to learn about the science of plant-based nutrition.

#3 Consumer education

Consumers need to: 

  • Be made aware of the impact of their food purchases on their health
  • Understand their role as stewards of invaluable, limited resources such as soil and water
  • Be encouraged to purchase more products from local farms
  • Talk to their healthcare providers about the benefits of an organic, whole-foods diet.

#4 More local, integrative health initiatives

We need more programmes that focus on increased patient access to fresh fruit and vegetables, such as:

  • Cash-back rebates for fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fruit and vegetable prescription vouchers
  • Community gardens
  • Subsidised food boxes
  • Home-delivery meals for at-risk patients
  • Collaborative food pantry clinics
  • Hospital meals that utilise locally-grown food.

#5 Incentivise medical professionals 

Healthcare providers can be incentivised to implement lifestyle medicine practices. Innovative payment methods can also disincentivise medicine-based chronic disease management.

#6 Fund more research for organic farming and crop diversification

More research means more funding, lower costs, improved technology, improved access and buy-in to help shift production to a greater focus on fruits, vegetables, pulses and whole grains. 

#7 Incentivise organic and regenerative organic methods

Currently, most governments subsidise and insure conventional commodity crops. Instead, governments should look to incentivise sustainable agriculture – farms that capture carbon and provide other benefits through regenerative organic farming methods.

#8 Provide increased financial and institutional support 

Farmers transitioning to organic and regenerative organic practice could benefit from:

  • Payments for ecosystem and carbon sequestration services
  • Grants and loans specifically for organic and regenerative organic farmers
  • Funding for infrastructure such as certified organic grain elevators
  • Training of more organic inspectors
  • Providing grants for young farmers beginning regenerative organic operations.

#9 Encourage food companies to support regenerative farmers

  • Helping to fund certification costs
  • Paying premium rates during the transition periods from conventional to organic farming
  • Offering long-term contracts to farmers
  • Providing markets & infrastructure for the distribution of more regenerative organic products.

We are collectively facing an epidemic of diseases related to diet and lifestyle. These diseases are straining healthcare budgets and eroding individual health and prosperity around the world. At the same time, we are depleting Earth’s precious, limited resources. We need to stop perpetuating this cycle of global degeneration. 

The answer lies in a regenerative, sustainable vision for the future that acknowledges and harnesses the interconnectedness of soil, plants, people and the planet.

Get in touch with the Zylem team to find out more about how we promote soil health, plant health for human health. Contact us on 033 347 2893 or send your enquiry to admin@zylemsa.co.za.

Read more about regenerative agriculture.

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