Posted on September 30, 2010
We all know, or should know, the state of Americans’ health or lack of. It’s not good. It’s not even unsatisfactory. It’s scary bad. A report recently came out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that in 10 years 75% of Americans will be either obese or overweight. That’s a mind boggling study that’s just plain disturbing to me. That means when you go to the grocery store and there’s 4 other people in front of you in line, there’s a good chance that 3 of them will be overweight. Then if you look in their cart you’ll see why they’re overweight. I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t see a single piece of fresh fruit or vegetable in their cart. Instead they have canned this and canned that, frozen this and frozen that, boxes of this and boxes of that. I notice that all the time when I go shopping, especially at the mother of all fat farms – Walmart. Everything Americans are eating is processed to last longer and taste better, which also happens to make us fat.
We’ve all heard that obesity is a national epidemic. Some people say that obesity is even a sickness or disease. I think that’s false and a silly excuse probably make up by the drug industry so people would think Hydroxycut or some other “rapid weight loss” drug would be the quick easy fix to their protruding belly. As if put more stuff in your mouth when you’re already obese would be the solution to losing weight. So, I’m sure there’s millions out there asking, “how are we even going to begin combating this gigantic problem?”. The solution is as easy as they come – eat more healthy food and be more physically active. That’s sounds super easy, but like many things though, it’s the execution that’s the not-so-easy part. It’s tough for many Americans because they’ve spent their entire life eating unhealthy food and consider walking up the stairs their exercise for the day. Sad but true.
How Did We All Get Fat?
I think the problem stems from the day we’re born. What kind of food were your raised with? What kind of food did your parents prepare for you? Was it healthy or was it a tv dinner? Did your family go out to eat 3-4 days out of the week or did you have healthy home cooked meals? Did your parents stock your pantry full of sodas, juice and cookies to snack on or was your fridge full of fresh fruits and vegetables instead? All of these factors likely conditioned you to eat healthy or unhealthy. For myself, I was fortunate enough to have been raised with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and fish and minimal meat. And my parents were cheap so we rarely went out to eat. (In my parents defense, there were 4 of us kids, which makes for a pretty expensive dinner when there’s 6 people) To this day I continue to maintain a diet very similar diet to my upbringing, probably even healthier with a lot more variety. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not a health nut, I don’t measure out my protein and count calories and treat myself once a week with a single tablespoon of ice cream. Trust me, I bet I love ice cream more than you. You don’t need to be a health dictator or like that really buff lady on The Biggest Loser to live healthy. I was just in South Korea, where they have the lowest obesity rate (3.2%) in the world and I didn’t see people going to the gym everyday and eating only organic foods and going to health stores to buy groceries. They’re healthy because they eat a ton of fresh vegetables, eat in moderation and walk everywhere. (Note: I have a friend that recently spent 2 weeks in South Korea and lost 7 pounds just because he had to walk everywhere and use public transportation) I’m not saying that going to gym or health stores are bad, I’m just saying they’re not always necessary if you want to live healthier. There are simple solutions out there.
Gardening = A Piece Of The Solution
For the most part I have unconsciously been living a relatively healthy life thanks to the example and conditioning of my parents. Not until recently have I been more conscience of my health. I guess as you get older you think about things like health more. Maybe it’s the realization that your health is more important than you thought and that it’s better to maintain your health and prevent sickness than to completely ignore your health and then get sick and try to fix the problems later on in life. I think of it like a retirement fund - you need to start early and be consistent if you want to have a comfortable life when you’re older.
Some time ago I watched a documentary called Food Inc. It’s a fascinating documentary that will open your eyes and probably frighten you with where your food comes from. I also took some time to listen to some lectures from author Michael Pollan, who has written a bunch of books on where our food comes from, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Since then I have been more conscience of the food I’m buying, where it comes from and whether it’s actually healthy or not. This “awakening” encouraged me even more to maintain my garden. Growing a garden is one simple solution that I recommend to everyone seeking a more healthy lifestyle. I realize that a garden is probably not going to produce enough fruit and vegetables to feed you throughout the year. But it will give you some super fresh and healthy produce that you grew yourself and you’ll know exactly where it came from and I think you’ll gain a greater appreciation for food. On top of all of that you’ll be outside being active!
Of course growing a garden is not going to eliminate obesity and you certainly would not be able to survive on what you grow in your backyard. What I’m getting at is that growing a garden has major benefits to your health. There’s something about nurturing a seed into a plant that provides you with completely organic produce that’s so satisfying and healthy. I think most people, myself included, have no clue how their food is made or where it comes from. Gardening helps you learn about your food. I also think that being outside cleaning, trimming, digging in your garden is great exercise. You don’t need it to be a workout, but the idea is just to be active - getting out and doing something instead of sitting on your couch. My solution to obesity is to eat healthier and be more active. Does a garden produce health food? Will gardening keep you active? Does living a healthier life need to be difficult? Nope. Go start a garden.
Stay tuned...I'll soon be posting how to build a super easy raised bed garden.