While describing what a “good” diet looks like may be difficult, there are some key elements that are certainly healthier for the planet and for the human. When you were a child, you may have been told that eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away. However, when analyzing this proverb more critically, it conveys something deeper about the health of our food system in general. In the agri-food system, with the increase of monocropping (repeatedly planting a single variety), we have lost the diversity in the types of produce, which is simultaneously bad for our environment, as it overworks our soils and diminishes the diversity in our insect populations. Monocropping also affects human health because our gut biomes require variety to be resilient and healthy. Because our global food systems have become increasingly complex, we could, but should not respond to problems with a single answer, but instead approach them with a multi-faceted perspective. Ultimately, it is even better for us to vary what we are consuming – beyond the apple itself and beyond a single apple variety. Or, for example, to consume an apple grown without dangerous pesticides might require you to know what label to look for, or to know your producer and have a conversation with them. This is the importance of sourcing from local food movements like farmers’ markets, from where there is direct selling from producer to consumer, so not only is there the opportunity for more sustainable, more diverse practices and varieties, but also creating this opportunity for a conversation between consumer and producer. So, this week, the World Farmers’ Market Coalition celebrates World Health Day, as we advocate for both the health of each other and for the health of our planet.
by Christina Ermilio