Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

Healthy Food is an Economic Issue

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My recurring stomach issues got me thinking that there are serious problems with the food available on the market. Whenever I’ve had the chance to eat out, the usual after effects were either diarrhea or stomach cramps. The stomach covers more than 80 % of our immune system so you can easily imagine how serious the effect of bad food is on the body. Moreover, whatever money you might spend on eating out, you’re sure to spend the double of it on medicine and at the same time also have to cope with the side-effects of antibiotics. This got me thinking that if food supplies, food systems, cooking methods and cooking environments could be properly taken care of, most of our health and economic problems could be controlled.

When the immune system grows weak, the body becomes prone to all sorts of serious illnesses and seasonal viral and bacterial infections. And serious illnesses like cancer or hepatitis mean that a person is seriously debilitated for a period of about two to six years – while their course of  treatment also further weakens the immune system further exposing them to all sorts of allergies and maladies.

This scenario highlights the problem of ‘treating’ the disease. But treatment has to focus on two aspects simultaneously.  The government should equip hospitals for proper medical therapy AND  ‘treat’ food systems to ensure provision of food that is safe and hygienic. Not forgetting the fact that a strong immune system can fight diseases like cancer as well. Most herbal medicine practitioners recommend an increased in-take of herbs, fruits and vegetables to cure diseases. Other spiritual healing practitioners believe that ‘activity’ of the body and the harmonious rapport between mind and body attained through various mental and physical exercises is the key to healthy living.

However this may be, the fact remains that if a country has healthy individuals, its economy will be strong as well. People suffering from illnesses are unable to contribute much to progress of whatever kind. Therefore, employers look for ‘healthy’ individuals so they can get more work done, and raise their economic prospects while also having to spend less on the health issues of the workforce.

I would again quote my own personal experience that traditional home-ground spices taste better and are much healthier than the ones available in markets under different brand names. These go through various chemical procedures which is why they create problems for the stomach. While cooking I always use traditionally ground spices and they keep my stomach at peace.

Speaking from an agricultural point of view, the use of chemicals to help vegetables grow fast is dangerous for human health. Vegetables grown at a natural pace with minimum use of pesticides are more nutritious and simply taste better. My brother Mansoor who runs his own farm says that organic food is more nutritious because it does not involve much use of pesticides. It thrives on applying natural fertilizers (manure or compost), and the use of  insects and birds to reduce pests and diseases.


Farming In Process at Argi-Crop

Farming at Argi-Crop

In my opinion, health problems, which have a great impact on the economy for a variety of reasons, can be better dealt with by securing the food chain – vegetable and animal – and enhancing the quality of food to strengthen the immune system and shield people from common diseases. This can be done without bankrupting our economy because the systems we need are all in place; we just need a little more care, attention and above all, honesty and love for humanity.

To address these issues, the government should launch awareness programs to encourage people to prefer natural products over chemical-sodden products (e.g. home-ground spices over spices with chemical additives, fresh juices over canned juices etc.). The government should also make its food quality units more conscientious and establish a strict checks and balances system for farmers and distributors to ensure general availability of healthy food.

Our hospitals are permanently overcrowded with people suffering from health issues directly connected to the quality of the food they eat. Eliminating health issues caused by bad food would go a very long way to easing the burden on the health system and making healthcare services readily and easily available.

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Maria Farooq

I am a self-motivated and hard-working researcher and academician. I am English language teacher and also M. Phil scholar. I am interested in world politics, international affairs and cultures and world history.