Food for the 21st Century | Findings Spring 2009 | University Michigan School of Public Health

Food for the 21st Century

Food shapes our days and powers our dreams. It’s a source of health and well-being as well as a meta-phorical channel for love and pain. It brings us together in unforgettable ways: around campfires, under trees, inside kitchens and coffee shops, on blankets and boats and trains. We turn to food when we need to celebrate or grieve, when we have business to conduct or friends to entertain, when a loved one is preparing to leave home and when that loved one comes safely back. Across the globe, we define ourselves by what and when, how and where we eat. Our relationship with food is primal and, as these pages show, increasingly fraught. In parts of the world we eat too much, in much of the world too little. Many of the foods we eat are harmful to us—harmful too, research shows, to our unborn children. Our predilection for fast, cheap food has led to agricultural practices that are damaging the environment (as well as our hearts). Our addiction to fossil fuels is poisoning the waters from which we derive our fish and the soil in which we grow the fruits and vegetables and grains that are so essential to our health. We can’t stop eating, of course, but we can change the way we eat and the way we grow and distribute food. We can change our attitudes about what food is and how it should be consumed. Some people are there already. Read on, and you’ll see why.

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