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Alexander Shand

electronics engineer,

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How can we move away from poor diets?

It seems to me that it is as easy and as cheap to eat a healthy diet nowadays as it is to eat poorly. Fresh fruit ans vegetables are often less expensive than brand name crisps and chocolate or frozen foods, yet the latter seems to be the snack/meal of choice.

How can we move away from this mindset? How about a 'bad diet tax' where your months shopping is registered and you are taxed/fined if your choice of purchases do not meet a set standard?

Topics: healthy eating
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    Jul 27 2011: 1) Avoid all foods with chemical ingredients.
    2) Avoid highly processed food.
    3) Avoid white foods except cauliflower

    It's a start. Simple rules for the willing.
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      Jul 27 2011: Hello Debra and welcome to the discussion.

      I am unaware of the avoidance of white foods, can you elaborate?

      These are great ideas but how would you push these ideas/values to the masses and more importantly the unwilling?
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        Jul 27 2011: Hi Alexander, white foods like flour, rice, etc are highly processed. By linking the connection with colour it is simple to adopt for many. I'd bet that the simple rule would run into major road blocks from the milk marketing boards, though.
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          Jul 27 2011: It makes sense when you say it like that, and I have in fact already started that process by purchasing wholemeal rice, pasta and bread.
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    Jul 26 2011: By having a relationship with the food that actually allows for the food's integrity. Animals and plants are living breathing things (until we kill them or they die) that have their own intentions and purpose. When you eat food of any kind, it should be respected and appreciated as sustenance that is necessary for your survival; and, if you're lucky, beneficial to your enjoyment and preferences.

    If people were to approach their relationship with food in this way, then they would see that artificially contaminating food is actually quite disrespectful use of the once living animal or plant. It's as if a person were to die and at their funeral people desecrated their body by adding mechanical limbs and other frivolous objects that are not necessary or appropriate in honoring the person.

    I think that charging a "bad diet tax" will actually detrimentally hurt the "poor." Often times fruits and vegetables, particularly organic ones that have not had detrimental pesticides included in their growing process, in the Untied States are much more expensive than junk food. People on tight budgets buy what they can afford, which is generally not organic as that is not the norm in large scale farming in the United States.
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      Jul 26 2011: Sanyu,

      Thanks for your input.

      I am not necessarily about organic food as (in the UK also) it can be more expensive. My family recently decided that we would stop using what we called 'freezer foods' like chicken nuggets etc. The result has been that our diet is much better, our food expense is less and we all have fun getting together when creating a meal.

      How about a food tax rebate for families who meet the set standard then? This would give families from all backgrounds a financial incentive to eat healthy. It would also release tax payers money that is otherwise spent on treating illness caused by a poor lifestyle.
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        Jul 26 2011: Hey Alexander,

        A tax rebate would certainly be good incentive! I would be interested to see governments implement such a system, though I doubt the "far right" (or "far left" for that matter) would allow such a thing in the United States.

        Eliminating freezer foods from diets is definitely a large step towards being more healthy. However, it is good to be aware of the MANY MANY chemicals used to grow food that is not certified organic. The pesticides are so horrible that they kill the fertility of the crop, so I can't imagine they are good for our bodies.

        Amazing how doing things naturally has become and been made expensive in modern day society...
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      Jul 27 2011: Hi Sanyu and Alexander.

      I really love the idea about having a respect for the food you eat as it was a living part of the planet. It's a great way to look at it. 

      The pricing of food is no different in Australia, organic foods are a lot more expensive than non organic. I don't know about the tax idea to get people to eat more healthy, what would the standard be? There would seem to be to many variables with setting a standard as people are very unique with their diets. Even if you where to put a rebate on just fruit and veg you would have the problem of poorer people buying the non organic produce and like Sanyu stated, there are lots of chemicals used in producing these foods and most probably arnt very healthy for us ether.

      There is growing awareness for healthy eating and diet but it doesn't seem to be getting that many people on board. I was thinking about this the other day, more on the subject on why people continue to eat meat though. I put it down to that most people are to lazy and selfish to make a change. They are lazy for not putting the time in and researching a healthy alternate diet, and selfish because they don't want to sacrifice the indulgences and comforts of certain tasting foods.

      I've recently given up meat and dairy after reading up on how damaging it is for the environment and me personally, and it is pretty tough, especially because I love the taste of there two food groups and they are everywhere. I've had to change my shopping habits, it's a little more expensive but not by much. The hardest thing is being limited of choice when I go out for dinner and cook at home, in saying that I do still occasionally have some dairy.

      So I am proof that with effort, discipline and a want of a healthier world it can be done :)

      In the end it is the individuals decision what they eat, so I think efforts have to be made to change there perspective or something. In the meantime, the individual who goes it alone can start today :)
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        Jul 27 2011: Tyrone,

        Many thanks for your very interesting input.

        It may be true that there are alot of chemicals used in growing non-Organic foor but does this make it worse for you than frozen or fast food?

        I am personaly an eater of meat but have recently reduced the amount that I consume and replaced it with larger portions of vegetables. I don't think I have developed the sort of will power to stop altogether :-)

        I agree that it is an individuals decision but does that mean that those of us who have chosen a healthier lifestyle must pay for the diseases that develope in those who don't?

        As fot the cash incentive, a team of experts could decide on what standards are set with the possibility of incrementing the rebates/payments dependant on how healthy your diet is. this would offset the cost of buying Organic foods and bring the price in line with the cheaper options such as non-Organic or frozen.
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          Jul 31 2011: Your right that fresh (with some chemicals) would still be better over frozen and fast foods, and I would guess that if there where a increase in vegetable demand you would see more organic options becoming available, there for more completion in prices.

          That is great to hear that you have taken a step back to a more natural diet, I support your decision. I don't think the world has to give up meat, as there is large amounts of evidence that say we are naturally omnivores; but if they could understand that our body's do not support a large meat diet (which is common now to have some sort of meat with almost every meal) there would be a big difference in health.

          Those who choose healthier choices absolutely should not have to pay the disease of the lazy and ignorant, but in saying that I fear that the kind of question that you have stated (which is very obvious and logical question to ask before devoting effort to change your self) is the reason some would not make a change. As they may feel why should they make an effort to change and do it a little harder while others do not. I think the answer to this is that you have to stand strong and be prepared to pay for the acts of others who continue to have no compassion, and have pride in the wisdom that you are doing your part for the greater good and your self.

          If I the option was there for me to be able to buy organic and get cash back, so it equaled the price of regular fresh foods, I would do it :)

          Oh and check out the Ted video by Carolyn Steel, how food shapes our cities. Very interesting
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          Aug 1 2011: Hi Tyrone,

          You've made many good points and I'll be sure to check out Carolyn's talk.

          As to giving up meat for a while, you're right about that. I will have to, because ultimately it's just not appropriate or respectful the way food is interacted with where I live. Until I live on or near a farm of people with integrity that I can trust to facilitate the eating process with proper regard, I will have to cut back on what food I allow in my body (and in my energetic space).
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        Jul 27 2011: Hi Tyrone!

        Respect for food is essential I think. Or else how do you have a respectful relationship with food in relation to your own existence? I find that plenty of people have poor relationships with food in the Untied States. Both in terms of eating disorders and eating orders (like diets, etc.). People like to treat food like it's the enemy, as opposed to the way they are relating to the food as the actual culprit.

        I, too, have not yet jumped off the meat wagon. Though I will admit I have been having the vegetarian dialogue with myself for a few months now. The truth of the matter is that I only like well prepared meat, which is not the average meat product. That being said, without spices and whatnot, meat has little to offer but protein.

        There is a respectful way to part animals with their life, though it is not commonly practiced. I actually think a lot of meat products suffer because of this. Animals that die in fear or in suffering release toxins into their body at the moment of death. Considering the horrid meat factories in the United States, I think that means many people are eating toxic meat. I'm cutting back significantly, especially as we're basically the cause of healthy, natural fish species going extinct :o(.

        Certainly the most effective way to get people to eat healthy is to inspire them to change their worldview, I think TED makes efforts towards that. It isn't easy, but it's being done!
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          Jul 27 2011: How can we spread the idea beyond TED?
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          Jul 31 2011: If you didn't read my post to Alexander, check out the Ted video By Carolyn Steel, how food shapes our cities.

          From what I have seen and heard it does seem like America has issue with lack of knowledge when it comes to food, some of these ideas are put forward by Jamie Oliver in the shows he did on school kids, I remember him holding up an asparagus or something and none of the kids could identify it. (this could of been in England, but the point is still there)

          I am lucky as I have always had a love for food, which lead me to become a chef :) so the relationship with food comes a little more naturally. But in the last few years I have put the effort in to understand the right types of food i should be eating and become more consciouse of my eating habits.

          I encourage you to give meat up for a while and see how you go, all you need to do is research a little on alternate sources for protein and more impotently iron, and away you go :)

          The Muslim religions view towards animals and killing an animal is actually pretty good, if you tweak it a little. Most of it says that you must have a great respect for animals, and if you NEED to kill an animal for food you must follow procedures so the animal dies in a comfortable environment and with as little pain as possible, and to kill the animal in the name of god, for the greater good. The ideas are there, but like you said this is nit common practice, for the amount of animals we kill for food, I would guess that it would be pretty time consuming ending each animals life with care and respectfully. I believe that one of they ways to help this is by reducing the demand for meat :)

          With the help of the Internet and technology, ideas are able to spread in the blink of an eye, I believe it is very possible for everyone to change.
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        Jul 27 2011: Typical grassroots movement: 1 interaction at a time.

        Though it would be nice if there were some creative Public Service Announcements about it. PSA commercials would be pretty good too, though obviously both would require funding.
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          Jul 31 2011: I think we can do a lot, the key is to think small and simple. Every unique idea counts. There is no harm in posting print out about healthy eating around town :)

          Have a look at an "idea" I posted a couple of days ago named "masters of our own destiny".