I’m a glutton for passion with an insatiable appetite for adventure. I know I’m not alone as we’re all born with an innate curiosity and primal craving for exploration. We all have a visceral hunger for knowledge. We all long to understand the world around us and to find our purpose in it. One can argue that until we find our purpose in life, we are merely existing rather than living. One of the core elements of existentialism is freedom of choice, which according to the philosophy, is a critical determinant of one’s identity. We all inherently have the freedom to choose. The choices? Whether to exist or live. Whether to survive or thrive. Whether to reach our full potential and experience all that life has to offer, or to settle for the status quo. Unfortunately, for most of us the freedom to choose is heavily impacted by social constructs. Consistent with this reasoning, our identity then is also influenced by social constructs. The current U.S. food system has created an environment where our food choices are relegated to options that are convenient and cost effective. Mass produced food, or rather food products, that are most readily accessible, available and affordable are not that which reflect the cultural diversity of the people that make up this country. Our capacity to experience life and thus reach our full potential is impacted by societal confines that influence our food choices. Limited food choices resulting from social determinants restrict our capacity to actualize one’s identity and ultimately experience life. I believe that one of the ways our potential for self-actualization can be increased is by increasing our freedom of food choice via microcosmic food system restructuring. Okay, okay…all I’m trying to say is that we can make a difference and regain our freedom of food choice by selectively and intentionally choosing our food. Yes, it is much more convenient said than done, but we could definitely impact our food system by using our consumer power. Demand impacts markets so imagine what could happen if more of us started growing our own food, buying from local farmers, shopping at farmers markets, participating in community shared agriculture, or I don’t know…even just spending the little extra on food that was actually alive at one point rather than “food” that’s been processed so much to the point that it is legally called a food product. Anywho, you have to excuse me and my rambling. I just heard someone mention recently, “you are what you eat” and these were just some thoughts of a foodie. What do you think?
We spend our lives working tirelessly trying to survive. Much too often the work we do doesn’t contribute to fulfillment of our being. For many of us, we are actually drained and find our jobs to be merely a means to an end. We work to earn the means that would enable us to provide the basic needs of survival: food, water and shelter. We work hard in this current industrial system trying to sustain life and the irony is that the harder we work, the more we actually drain life in the process. From the time we’re old enough to start school, we’re fed the “American Dream”. Go to school, work hard and get a degree. Get a job, work really, really hard and be successful. We continue on with our lives trying to follow this formula; however, things don’t seem to be adding up.
People are living longer, but we’re sicker. Not only are we sicker, we’re unhappier. Not only are we unhappier, we’re unfulfilled. Rates of chronic disease and psychosocial challenges like anxiety and depression disproportionately affect people of color and continue to rise at alarming rates. To add more gloom to the forecast, our current generation of kids is projected to be the first generation to have a life expectancy shorter than that of its parents.
Why in a society where technology continues to advance exponentially are we seeing survival of the unfit? My observation – our current society has created an environment such that the fittest have become unfit. While adapting to an environment where we spend the majority of our waking hours at work and have less time to explore, experience and enjoy life, we have become stressed out. While living in an environment where overly-processed food products are more readily available, accessible and affordable than fresh fruits and vegetables, we have become unhealthier. While living in an environment where sedentary lifestyles have become the status quo, we have become sicker. Historically, being unhealthy, stressed and sick lead to a less favorable outcome. However, with modern western medicine, drugs have contributed to making unfit the new fit from a social ecological standpoint. We can now live longer with diabetes and heart disease. We no longer have to exert physical activity to hunt and/or gather food or to build shelter. Rarely do we currently participate in cultural practices or ceremonies that include dancing or other physical activity. So while we are all going through this journey called life, I can’t help but ponder a few questions. Are we really living, or have we evolved to zombies of our true selves? What if we followed a new formula? What if we focused our time and energy towards a different kind of work? What if we invested our time doing things that made us happy and brought us fulfillment? What if we started looking to some of the old ways of our ancestors for guidance on lifestyles that favor good health? What if we changed our own personal environments, our thoughts, mentalities, perspectives etc. to change ourselves while still living in a system that doesn’t necessarily favor healthy living? I believe that once we start acting on finding answers to these questions we will transcend surviving and begin thriving. Furthermore, I believe that instead of adapting to our environment, we can empower ourselves to thrive and our environment will have no choice but to adapt to us and support thrival of the fittest. I know this is a bit lengthy, but these are just a few of my thoughts. What do you think?