Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Food for fuel? Food for thought? Or a ‘fat tax’


A friend of mine posted a report on Facebook yesterday discussing how obesity is now Australia’s and the world biggest killer. Now affecting 2 out of 3 adults and 1 in five children 2 -4 years. http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health-fitness/australias-obesity-crisis-worsens-as-survey-shows-two-out-of-three-adults-overweight-or-obese/story-fneuz9ev-1226505251354 . One of the suggestions put forward by this Facebook debate, was a Medicare levy dependent upon your weight or physical health. (Medicare is the Australia national health care service, similar to NHS in the UK only it only covers a percentage of treatments and doctors visits etc). Others are suggesting a tax on convenience food or treats… would this really drive people to be healthy. Well it sparked a debate, some for, many against. Others such as myself can appreciate the idea, but can see the many flaws this may create. I mean its been tried on cigarettes and alcohol in most countries. And the loop wholes of a physical could be exploited by many.
Now I know what you’re thinking, this is a strange subject for a smallholding, home farm lifestyle blog, not really on point. And in some respects your right. But that discussion got me thinking about the many reasons we have made the lifestyle choice we have. And has inspired me to revisit my first ever blog ‘Just for the taste… not the waist’  http://just4thetaste.blogspot.com.au/  . But to not just revisit it and update it to reflect how far my journey has come. As this is a subject I (much like food sourcing and animal conditions) I can talk about forever! As for those who know me, would already know this is a very personal issue, as I myself, struggle with my weight. Though I am and continue to aim to control it through a combination of better food choices and exercise.
Exercise being a vital part of ‘good health’, and I do not believe that addressing either food or exercise will be truly successful for long term health- not just weight. It has to be both. And exercise is not something I really discuss on here. But I believe the trick is finding something you enjoy and that fits into your lifestyle. I could also go on to discuss how weight in can be as much a mental issue as a physical one. Or that our relationship with food as a society can be as much to blame. I guess what I am saying is this is a vast and varied subject and I do not believe that one solution suits all. Personal health and fitness and the means by which society measures and judges this issue is just as broad. There are many variations and definitions of being ‘fit’ or healthly’. I measure mine, not purely by a number on a scale (though this is something that I still aspire to… years of social brain washing), or by an ideal body shape. I measure mine by both personal ability and achievements and by the quality of my lifestyle.
So, back to food and our lifestyle…a little more on topic.
This lifestyle choice we have made is about growing and rearing what we can, but it’s also about improving the quality of what we eat, though the knowledge of how it is grown (and lived). Now this is not something everyone can do, I appreciate that. But somewhere along the way we have lost that connection of where our food comes from, how it is produced, what affect it has on the world around us and on our bodies and lifestyle. This is something everyone can do; with the right tools and guidance.  But that in many ways is the issue… at what point did we as a society (in general) lose these skills? And what is out there to help us learn, if we choose to.
But again I guess that is another issue. Everything is about choice.
But if we were so satisfied with our choices, why would both the weight loss and health (diet plans, books, home exercise equipment etc) be multi-billion dollar industries!  But what we need to accept is that the food we consume affects our moods and mental state as much as our bodies. And this in itself can be a vicious circle.  What we appear to have lost sight of is that food is a fuel. Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy food and share it, enjoy it with those we love, to celebrate. I strongly believe we should. But this is where the choice of food becomes the issue. And the use the skills we have acquired (or in many cases lost) regarding how to source it, prepare it and use it.
Now for many, this is the contentious issue. It is cheaper to buy high processed, packaged, convenience food than it is to purchase fresh, good quality produce and prepare a home cooked meal. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
My initial argument would be that those highly processed, convenience foods will also be just as convenient for your body to process. Therefore you will need to ‘refuel’ it sooner and therefore require more of it… so how is that cheaper?
Now understanding how and why is a matter of detailed biology and I am not a doctor, scientist or nutritionist, so am not about to lecture on the subject. But what I do know is a smaller amount of good quality food can be far more enjoyable, satisfying and in the long run more cost effective. As I am not just talking about your wallet, I am talking about your long term physical and mental health.
As I have said I am far from an expert. I have no accreditations or qualifications, but what I can offer is the benefit of my experience, in many cases I too am still learning and evolving. But hopefully some of my recipes, tips and techniques can help others. And I hope that I can mirror the success of this blog- which I have enjoyed for the past few months (and hope to continue to enjoy for a long time to come).  Others can share theirs. So please if this is something that affects you, has affected you or you’re just interested- Please join me.