We can’t be well in a world that is falling apart. Therefore, successfully adjusting to a low-carbon economy is of critical importance to the industry whose raison d’être is to promote and sell wellness. One aspect that is often overlooked (or rather doesn’t receive the attention it deserves) is food.
Global food habits, dominated by narrow, standardized, industrialized, and more often than not, inappropriate choices (e.g., heavy in packaging and all sorts of additives) are going in exactly the opposite direction to that to which wellness should be leading them. The individual and collective toll is considerable.
Recently, the Lancet Commission on sustainable food systems estimated that each year, unhealthy diets cause 11 million avoidable premature deaths, with incontrovertible scientific evidence that processed foods increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and other ailments, and are starting to reverse gains in life expectancy (particularly in the US).
At the macro level, industrial food production (far too much of it going to waste) greatly contributes to climate change and pollution—agriculture accounts for 40 percent of global land use, 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and 70 percent of freshwater consumption. This situation will be exacerbated by the reduction in agricultural yields (possibly an average of 8 percent in the coming years) caused by climate change in low latitudes—principally in Africa and South Asia.
What can the wellness industry do? Demonstrate good stewardship and implement best practices. To begin with, it can encourage, at the industry level, better education, slashing food waste, and promoting the values of cooking and sharing meals.