Monday, January 17, 2011

Thoughts to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up." 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The challenges so many people face related to food continue to grow. These challenges are large and small:

  • The city of Detroit is without a national supermarket chain.
  • The rising demand for quinoa could cause the cost of this super grain to surpass what the people of Bolivia can afford to pay, even though they grow much of the world's supply.
  • In a growing number of countries, people use 50-70% of their income on food. 
  • It takes 8kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef. 
  • The US Federal Government spends $10 to 30 billion a year on farm subsidies (mostly to large industrial farming operations).
  • There are 2.3 billion overweight people and 925 million hungry people worldwide. 
  • Food animal production in the US uses 29 million pounds of antibiotics annually.
  • Conservatively, 3.7% of farm workers have been diagnosed with a MRSA infection.
  • In 1997, 4.5 billion pounds of chemicals were used as pesticides (I'm afraid to think of what it is now).
  • The US produces 591 billions pounds of food a year, 50% goes to waste.
Each challenge, individually, is worthy of time and attention. Together, they represent one reality: Secure access to healthy, nutritious, whole foods. Why? Food and health are directly related. How can we shuffle the pieces of the puzzle to help all people live a healthy, full, peaceful and rewarding life? All people, the world over, or as Dr. King said "peoples everywhere." There is no "one nation" issue here. We are, truly, in a global food village which is growing smaller by day. Troubles and victories are shared by one and all, and I for one, think we should encourage such connectedness. 

I think part of Dr. King's message was that each of us need to grow to be "other-centered" by employing some "self-centered" behavior. Each of us is responsible for making good decisions for our own health. We are responsible to ourselves, our families and, globally, so there is enough healthful food and enough healthcare resources for all. 

Today, honor Dr. King by committing to live globally. Consider how you can improve your health so, together, we are able to build-up the health of "people's everywhere." Thank you, Dr. King. 

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