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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Publisher Letter

Reid Boyer, Publisher

Each year as I celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, I take a moment to reflect on the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence who risked everything to stand up to tyranny and fight for what they believed to be right. As Americans, we benefit from the fruits of that commitment every day when we enjoy the freedom to live the lives we choose. Despite our current economic sluggishness we still have it good in our country, and Americans do well to express gratitude for the guiding principles and freedoms we enjoy. I wonder, however, if we have not become complacent about standing up for our own and our families’ best interests. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Americans rank 24th out of the 30 countries studied in life expectancy, with the sixth-highest incidence of low birth weight among newborns, and the third-highest level of infant mortality and infant life expectancy. Americans are the world’s fattest people and among the few countries in which people in their early 20s are shorter than those in their late 40s. Of the 10 countries for which the OECD has data, Americans also experience the most severe psychological problems, with nearly half the population dealt some form of mental illness during their lifetime. We suffer the highest incidence of mental problems such as anxiety, mood swings, substance abuse and impulse control. How can this be? In 2008 the United States spent $2.3 trillion (16.2 percent of net national income) on healthcare. According to the Department of Labor, in 2009 Healthcare expenditures rose another five percent (the only increase among the major components of spending), while spending on food dropped 1.1 percent. Herein lies the answer of cause and effect: Americans are being penny wise at the grocery store, which leads to being pound foolish at the doctor’s office. The good news is the simple solution to this problem is available to every American. When we eat more nutritious food and lower our health risks, it also reduces the cost burden of sick care. We hope that this issue of Natural Awakenings inspires new thought and commitment to a healthy diet and ways that our entire community can share in abundant good health. Our feature article by Lisa Marshall chronicles “America’s Growing Food Revolution” (page 28) and includes insight from local food pioneer and Rodale Inc. CEO Maria Rodale. Our Action Alert on the genetically modified organisms (GMO) clues us into the unpredictable health implications of GMO foods and the ubiquitous GMO crops within our food system (page 32). We are most pleased to interview local restaurateur Michael Fegley of Fegley’s Brew Works on the sustainability practices that his family has instituted at their restaurants. It is our hope that more food service operations will follow suit to reduce the burden we place on our environment each time we eat out. As you celebrate your independence this year, I urge you to commit to making your life even better by making conscious decisions about what you eat. Shop at a local health food store, farmers’ market or farm stand. Know the source of your food, read labels and understand the role of your diet on your health. Fight for your own independence from disease and celebrate feeling awesome. Here’s to true freedom, Reid Boyer, Publisher
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