Source: Rodale Institute

Is our food system destroying our health?

Farmers, doctors, and scientists agree fixing our broken food and healthcare systems, and growing regenerative organic agriculture, key to improving human health in new white paper

Kutztown, PA, May 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new white paper released today by Rodale Institute and The Plantrician Project, leaders in the regenerative agriculture and healthcare system transformation movements, clearly outlines the ways in which the American food system has contributed to epidemic levels of chronic disease and lowered immune systems, and how regenerative organic agriculture could be a solution to improve the health of people and the planet.

Titled “The Power of the Plate: The Case for Regenerative Organic Agriculture in Improving Human Health,” the white paper compiles historical data, as well as comprehensive health, nutrition and agriculture research from around the world, to conduct a holistic analysis of the global food system and recommend the ways in which agriculture and lifestyle medicine can come together to improve quality of life. 

Presenting the concept of regenerative health, with contributions from farmers, scientists, and medical doctors, this paper is the first of its kind to consider the deeply intertwined effects of industrial agriculture on nutrition and healthcare and recommend solutions for restoring human and planetary health.

A full version of the paper can be downloaded for free at RodaleInstitute.org/PowerOfThePlate.

Key findings:

  • Over the last 50 years, quality of life has decreased while lifestyle diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases have increased rapidly, due in large part to diet.1
  • The Standard American Diet derives more than half of total calories from highly processed foods and only 11% of calories from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts.2
  • U.S. agriculture grows fruits, vegetables, and nuts on just 3% of cropland, and our crops have continued to lose nutrient density, leading to health issues and lifestyle diseases.3 4
  • In addition to lacking nutrition, industrial farming directly and indirectly affects human health via exposure to potentially endocrine-disrupting chemicals and through environmental pollutants.5 6 7 8 9 10 11
  • The key to improving human health lies in both what we eat and how it was produced and requires shifting to a regenerative health model that incorporates regenerative organic agriculture and nutrition into all levels of our food and medical systems.   

The white paper also makes nine specific recommendations for the integration of food and healthcare and the expansion of regenerative health. Medical doctors and soil scientists, including the white paper’s authors Dr. Scott Stoll of The Plantrician Project, Dr. Andrew Smith of Rodale Institute, Dr. Zach Bush of Farmer’s Footprint, Dr. Ron Weiss of Ethos Health, and Dr. Meagan Grega of Kellyn Foundation, will be discussing those recommendations in a June 2 panel discussion entitled “Ask the Experts: How Regenerative Organic Agriculture Can Improve Human Health.”

The panel discussion is free to attend. Pre-registration is required at RodaleInstitute.org/PowerOfThePlatePanel.

Rodale Institute has been researching regenerative and organic agriculture since 1947. Widely recognized as the global leader of regenerative organic agriculture movement, Rodale Institute is home to several long-term organic and conventional comparison trials, such as its flagship Farming Systems Trial, started in 1981.

“Our research has proven that a regenerative organic system cannot only feed the world, but feed it better quality food,” said Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute CEO. “This white paper gives us the opportunity to lay out in detail the ways in which our food system has a direct impact on our health, and how what we put on our plate—and the way it is produced—dramatically affects our health and our society.”

According to experts, the American healthcare system is currently overburdened with insufficient immune systems and lifestyle diseases; despite this, medical students receive less than 25 hours of nutrition education during their four years of medical school. The rising prevalence of unhealthy diets has paralleled the rise of industrial agriculture.

The Plantrician Project, co-publisher of “The Power of the Plate,” aims to inspire and educate physicians, healthcare providers and health influencers with knowledge about the indisputable benefits of a primarily organic, whole food, plant-based diet to prevent and reverse chronic lifestyle related diseases.

“Proper nutrition is the foundation of health,” said Dr. Stoll. “As a physician, I see an incredible number of patients with preventable, and reversible, lifestyle-related diseases. A critical component of healthcare is the production of healing foods and it is essential that we develop relationships with our local farming communities to improve the food ecosystem—making healthy, nutrient-dense foods easily accessible and affordable.” 

“The Power of the Plate” is part of a health-focused partnership between Rodale Institute and The Plantrician Project. The organizations are working to establish the Regenerative Health Institute, a state-of-the-art facility and educational hub designed to bring together the fields of medicine and agriculture that have, historically, been siloed. This facility will conduct research on the links between farming and human health, as well as provide educational programming and community support for agricultural professionals, medical professionals, and the public. Learn more at RodaleInstitute.org/RegenerativeHealth.

Discussion:

Join a live discussion of “The Power of the Plate” with “Ask the Experts: How Regenerative Organic Agriculture Can Improve Human Health,” a free virtual panel on June 2, 2 – 3pm EST. This panel will feature scientists, medical doctors, and contributors to the white paper, including Dr. Zach Bush of Farmer’s Footprint, Dr. Ron Weiss of Ethos Health, Dr. Meagan Grega of Kellyn Foundation, and staff from Rodale Institute and The Plantrician Project. Pre-registration is required. Learn more and register at RodaleInstitute.org/PowerOfThePlatePanel.  

Resources:

About Rodale Institute: Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For seventy years, the Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet. Learn more at RodaleInstitute.org

About The Plantrician Project: The Plantrician Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation dedicated to educating, equipping and empowering physicians, healthcare providers and other health influencers with knowledge about the indisputable benefits of whole food plant-based nutrition. For more information, visit PlantricianProject.org.

 

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1 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Seattle, WA: IHME, 2018.

2 Greger, Michael, and Gene Stone. “Introduction.” How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Pan Books, 2018, pp. 6–6.

3 Bottemiller Evich, Helena. “The Vegetable Technology Gap.” The Agenda, Politico, 8 Mar. 2017, www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/03/fruits-and-vegtables-technology-000337.

4 Vanamala, J. (2017). "Food systems approach to cancer prevention." Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 57(12): 2573-2588.

5 McCall, Becky. “Pesticides Linked to Increased Risk of Diabetes.” Medscape, 25 Sept. 2015, www.medscape.com/viewarticle/851549.

6 Juntarawijit, Chudchawal, and Yuwayong Juntarawijit. "Association between diabetes and pesticides: a case-control study among Thai farmers." Environmental health and preventive medicine 23, no. 1 (2018): 3.

7 Zhang, Luoping, Iemaan Rana, Rachel M. Shaffer, Emanuela Taioli, and Lianne Sheppard. "Exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides and risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a meta-analysis and supporting evidence." Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research 781 (2019): 186-206.

8 Wang, Anthony, Myles Cockburn, Thomas T. Ly, Jeff M. Bronstein, and Beate Ritz. "The association between ambient exposure to organophosphates and Parkinson's disease risk." Occup Environ Med 71, no. 4 (2014): 275-281.

9 Kalkbrenner, Amy E., Rebecca J. Schmidt, and Annie C. Penlesky. "Environmental chemical exposures and autism spectrum disorders: a review of the epidemiological evidence." Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care 44, no. 10 (2014): 277-318.

10 Rossignol, Daniel A., Stephen J. Genuis, and Richard E. Frye. "Environmental toxicants and autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review." Translational psychiatry 4, no. 2 (2014): e360-e360.

11 von Ehrenstein, Ondine S., Chenxiao Ling, Xin Cui, Myles Cockburn, Andrew S. Park, Fei Yu, Jun Wu, and Beate Ritz. "Prenatal and infant exposure to ambient pesticides and autism spectrum disorder in children: population based case-control study." bmj 364 (2019): l962.

Margaret Wilson
Rodale Institute
610-597-5650
margaret.wilson@rodaleinstitute.org

Alexis Corrigan
The Plantrician Project
314-914-3540
acorrigan@plantricianproject.org