We’ve talked a lot about the importance of breaking the connection between food and fuel by supporting local farmers, growing your own food, buying local and organic, avoiding food produced on factory farms and eating more plants with less meat and dairy products. It’s clear that these actions support healthier food systems in America and that they also support our personal health.
A few books and documentaries have recently highlighted the benefits of eating whole, fresh foods. One of these, “The China Study” written by Dr. T Colin Campbell, documents years of research which point to the Dr.’s claim that eating mostly plants can dramatically reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. His study was the result of a 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine which examined 367 variables across 65 countries and 6500 adults.
From the data he collected, Dr. Campbell concluded that the closer we get to a completely plant-based diet, the healthier we will become. He based this recommendation on correlations he found between animal protein consumption and the increase in diseases like cancer and heart disease. Dr. Campbell doesn’t suggest that we must all switch to 100% plant based diets, but that the more we can focus on plants (vegetables and fruits) in our diet, the healthier we will be.
There has been some controversy over Dr. Campbell’s science. Some believe that he found the answers he was looking for and not the truth behind his data. These claims remain to be resolved one way or another. But with what we know about the future of agriculture, the negative realities of industrial farming and the benefits, both physical and economic, of supporting local farmers, it seems a general move towards more plant-based diets will help to achieve our goal of untangling the unsustainable connection between the food and fuel systems in America.
With the drought of 2012 severely affecting this year’s corn crop, food prices have been rising and farmers are struggling to get enough corn to feed their livestock. In addition to shortage of corn for feed, according to the USGS (U.S. Geologic Survey), it takes between 4,000-18,000 gallons of water to produce just one 1/3 pound hamburger! Contrast that with 13 gallons for an orange or 10 gallons for a slice of bread.
So whether you are inspired for health, environmental or economic motives, there are many good reasons to switch towards a diet more heavily based in plants and whole, fresh, unprocessed foods.