Healthy Food: It's Not a Lifestyle, It's Life.
By Lily Michelson


Have you ever walked into your local grocery store and paused for just a moment before beginning your shopping? The sight is really quite spectacular. In just one contained location, you have, on average, access to 38,000 distinct products. With all of those options, how can you possibly make a decision? Moreover, how can you be sure that your decision is the right one?

Making smart food choices is more than just a lifestyle: it’s necessary for life! We need a well-rounded and nutritious diet to perform basic life activities, develop to our physical and cognitive capacities, and maximize our economic potential. Because our bodies demand essential nutrients, if we fail to receive them we are left vulnerable to sickness, disease, and even death.   Any form of malnutrition (like under-nutrition, micro-nutrient deficiency, or obesity) therefore has dangerous and significant costs to ourselves, our health care systems, and our food systems.

Though we have made  progress in addressing malnourishment, we still have a long way to go. FAO’s annual report of the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) estimates that 12.5% of the world’s population is undernourished, 2 billion individuals are micro-nutrient deficient, and 1.4 billion individuals are overweight. With so many people malnourished, we need a healthy, sustainable food system that can improve diet and nutritional outcomes through a food-based approach.

That’s our perspective. What’s yours?

Today’s PERSPECTIVES essays discuss human nutrition in the context of food education and overall health. Featured journalist and author Jeannie Marshall focuses on the importance of eating real food to fuel our bodies. Dr. Antonia Demas of the Food Studies Institute expands upon the importance of developing food literacy through food education in schools. Finally, the 1,000 Days partnership highlights the impact that can be made by improving nutrition during the most critical period of a person’s development: the pre-natal stages through the second birthday.

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