Redefining healthy food

Photo credit: ConstructionDealMkting Photo credit: ConstructionDealMkting

A comprehensive report by Health Care Without Harm calls for a reconsideration of how we define healthy food. According to the report, the classic definition of healthy food, based on components including the number of calories, fat, and vitamins, must be expanded to include social, economic and environmental factors. Many food production methods overuse chemicals and contribute to air and water pollution, which have direct negative impacts on human health.   Conventional agriculture methods that rely on synthetic chemicals, mono-cropping and fuel-intensive management techniques, and do not conserve natural resources are particularly detrimental to the environment. Fortunately, organic farming methods provide a model for healthier and more sustainable food production. “Evidence demonstrates that organic and agroecological methods can help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon in soils through organic matter accumulation. Research has demonstrated that organic farming methods can also contribute to greater biodiversity by providing wildlife and soil biota habitat, help to conserve soil and water resources, and reduce or eliminate the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that wreak havoc in ecosystems.” The authors conclude that by choosing nutritious foods grown using methods that are beneficial to society and our environment, we can fully realize the role that healthy eating plays in preventive health care.