Def’n sustainability (per Wikipedia):
Sustainability is a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely. The term, in its environmental usage, refers to the potential longevity of vital human ecological support systems
In recent years an academic and public discourse has led to this use of the word sustainability in reference to how long human ecological systems can be expected to be usefully productive…………
When I ride the bus into work, I like to take advantage of the time and do a little light reading. I was getting into my favorite magazine, Body + Soul (check it out!). Eco-friendly living and sustaniable “anything” is a big trend these days. Its all over the cover and in just about every section of articles. It got me to thinking:
We often focus on bringing Earth back into balance and that focus is usually outside of ourselves. I ride the bus to help “save the environment”. I recycle to “protect the Earth”, etc. Sustainable products are all about using resources in a way that preserves them for the long haul and not just for my immediate gratification (like can I schlep a canvas lunch bag to work everyday, even w/its food stains, in place of a plastic bag which I just toss out).
However, what about looking at sustainability, based on the def’n above, in terms of nutrition. Hmmmm, now here is some food for thought. Is my diet sustainable? If I did what I do regularly every day, could I exist in wellness when I’m 60? how about you: Is what you are eating/not-eating/how you are eating it something you could keep up for the long term without demise or collapse?
If no, then it is not sustainable. Maybe we’re missing the mark a bit by keeping the sustainability articles focusing on just landfills, water bottles and bamboo floors.
Let’s do a case study. Let’s use me.
Say that every day I stop for a hot chocolate (my dirty little secret: I love the JUNK hot chocolate. I try and just drink it at home w/my recipe (1st post in recipes) Let’s say I exercise regularly, have about 5 lbs to lose (put on during the last 5-7 yrs of living a 9-5 lifestyle and being moderately attached to my little sugar fix, as well as some MAJOR sugar benders each day) , but no drastic health challenges. I’m currently 31 yrs old. Because I get a good dose of sugar/fat/possibly HFCS and possibly trans fats daily, these certainly add up with time. Not to mention the hundred to several hundred calories of nothing I am consuming (nothing except pure enjoyment and inner peace, that is).
Could I do this indefinitely and still prosper? Probably not. I might be able to do it forever, but prosper I would not. Those 5# could easily double in a year, simply by eating 100 calories/day (esp of non-whole foods like hot chocolate and dairy-based foods). Over the next 40 yrs, that is another 20lbs. No good.
Then there is the long term effect of sugar. Pretty much it is the anti-sustainability substance. It’s like an oil spill in the ocean, or holes in the ozone. And who knows what 40 yrs of regularly ingesting chemicals (like the “natural flavors” found in packaged foods”) will do. And what about the crowding out of wholesome foods, more water, herbal tea, or other options that actually ad to health. Sure, today nothing is wrong, but what about when I reach 65? What about the desire for sweet that tends to perpetuate when I get my hands on a hot cup o’ cocoa. where will those leave me in 20 yrs? Do I want to keep chipping away at my wellbeing over some crappy product made by Nestle?
So, again, ask yourself: is what you’re eating today going to sustain you tomorrow? If I was a rainforest, would the foods and habits I’m putting into my system yield maximum growth in the future? Would my eco-system flourish indefinitely? What am I eating, that when added up, could make a big impact on my health?
Maybe we need to direct a little attention to our own ecosystems and focus there while doing our part to keep our planet well. We are part of the Earth, anyway. What we do to ourselves (microcosm) is a reflection of what we do to nature (macrocosm).
This isn’t even about weight loss or gain or looking good . Those things come when we care for ourselves. I find the focus on weight or size totally unispires me. What really drives me to stay well is the feeling I get when my body/mind are nourished. I didn’t even know what this felt like until I was willing to get past the sugar coma I placed myself in and try some real food. Nature produces beauty when it has the natural, clean, resources to do so. My body does the same thing and no calorie counting is required. Remember what happened when you fed your plant Coca-cola for your 3rd grade science project? No good. Nope. Not sustainable in the least.
I recently finished Michael Pollan’s book “In defense of Food”. What a great read! Like you just wrote he says something to the effect of, it’s not always what we are eating but what we are missing because we are eating junk… like bad cocoa instead of herbal tea. With your help and with the reading I am continuing to do my eyes have really been opened to what is “food” and what is not “food”. Pollan says if a food or package has more than 5 ingredients chances are it’s NOT food. I’m really starting to take notice of that.
Funny how Hershey’s baking cocoa, real cane sugar and real dairy cream will make a more healthy drink for you than the sugar free, fat free, calorie free, and chemically ladened powdered variety.
No kidding….it totally requires us to change our mindset about what is “good”. I try and keep in mind that I am conditioned by hype and marketing and that is why I think that “fat free, sugar free” whattever is better than real stuff. It’s unraveling the mental knot, isn’t it?!