This May 19, celebrity chef and food activist Jamie Oliver is promoting Food Revolution Day, when communities around the world come together to focus on real food and its health benefits for kids and adults. What bears noting is that more than childhood obesity is at stake: human health, environmental health and social justice all collide on our dinner plates.
In this video introducing Food Revolution Day, Oliver touches upon a piece of wisdom that holds us back from progress: the need for certainty and easy answers before we take action.
As the video says, “it took us 50 years to get into this mess, and it’s going to take some time to get out of it.” Oliver has highlighted a key issue around sustainability — it’s incredibly complex and there are no silver bullets. No easy solutions? That makes many of us very uncomfortable. Our need for simple, yes/no answers (local or Fair Trade? calories or carbs? Mediterranean diet or Neanderthal?) gets in the way of progress.
Despite this complexity, Oliver and his team have hit upon some ways to move people to healthier eating habits: eating real food, especially fruits and vegetables; sensible portions and learning to cook from scratch. Making real food a priority and making thoughtful decisions, even if the perfect thing to do is not always clear, can only help us attain a healthier food system and a more sustainable world.
Think eating sustainable, healthy food is easy? Consider the issues that complicate our food choices, but that nonetheless require urgent attention. Here’s just a partial list:
- Meat consumption
- Population pressure
- Processed foods
- Factory farming/Confined Animal Feeding Operations/Sow Gestation Crates
- Farmworker rights
- Land rights
- Food Waste
- Food labeling
- Food justice (access to healthy foods in poor communities)
- Agricultural subsidies
- Packaging waste
- Food Miles
- Water use
- Pesticide use
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Biodiversity loss
- Colony Collapse Disorder
Our “modern” food system was created by greed, ignorance and apathy. A new system can be based on community, education and mindfulness. Maybe May 19 will be a milestone in this new creation.
Photo credit: Is eating a revolutionary act? Still from Food Revolution Day video