The wholistic approach

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I've mentioned other times about preferring to have one blog instead of two, for all sorts of quotidian reasons, but foremostly in a symbolic way: I want to find a way to make my two issues — saving the planet and escaping the misery of obesity — be one. (It's the Buddhist's hot dog order: Make me one with everything.) When the subjects are, say, solar energy and food addiction, it's not readily apparent where the Venn overlap is. But aided in part by one of my "other" passions, biomimicry, I saw a couple more glimpses of the intersection last weekend at “Food Addiction, the Obesity Epidemic Connection,” a conference I attended last weekend in Bainbridge Island, Washington. The best connection I got was an addition to the sustainability issues that come up around food. * Previously, I've noted that a "diet," which is the most common way people try to lose weight, has unsustainability in its DNA: "As soon as I'm done reducing, I'm going to go back to how I was doing it before." * The same post discussed the unsustainability of bariatric surgery, which somehow reasons that making stomachs smaller will solve the problem of people who got too big. This is not a way to live for the rest of one's life, even those who don't die in surgery or relapse after the operation. But I heard "sustainability" in its simplest sense at the obesity conference: We cannot sustain without food. Frickin' obvious, but still, sustainability at its most basic. Most of the linkages I've read and heard in this area come from the Michael Pollan sector: * Monoculture as most of the world practices it is not sustainable, for example, because it relies heavily on petrochemicals, and because it will eventually become vulnerable to pests. * The way we eat isn't sustainable because of how the methane produced by industrial agriculture messes with the atmosphere. * The growth of food is so reliant on depleting watersheds that our population levels may soon be unsustainable. But more basic than all of that is, what we put into our bodies to sustain our lives makes a difference. It's not just throughput. Just like we can't plant hedgerow to hedgerow with corn and then make it a constituent of every meal we eat without ill consequence, we can't repeatedly eat meals composed of corn-fed beef, corn-sweetened soda, and corn-oil-fried fries without ill consequence. The biomimicry angle I see — or take guidance from, anyway — is the interconnectedness on the planet. It's not humans and nature as two — we're all natural. We are best equipped to tackle a problem when we examine a whole system, rather than just a symptom of it. That's another way of expressing the flaw I find with bariatric surgery: A knife cannot fix why someone got so grotesquely fat that they resorted to surgery to fix it. But interconnectedness came up in another way, too: Probably the conference's biggest accomplishment was bringing scientists into contact with clinicians and, more importantly, compulsive eaters. I was surprised by how many of the scientists hadn't really interviewed, never mind interacted with, compulsive eaters before. How can one hope to solve a problem without assaying its particulars, beginning with how it affects those who have it?


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