Agriculture and Health

In Agriculture, Food by Lenore NewmanLeave a Comment

Want to be healthy? Live near healthy food!

Sometimes, it’s hard to have a healthy diet. You might be stuck in an airport, or in a part of town with lots of fast food. Here in BC we are blessed with abundant productive farmland, and can buy fresh healthy food at the grocery store, at the farm stand, and at plentiful farm stores and stands? But does this wealth of food options make us healthier? It turns out the answer is yes.

My research team just completed a report summarizing the potential impact of BC’s agricultural sector on community health, and though this report covers a lot of ground, one of the more interesting findings was that around the world there is evidence that when people live near fresh healthy food they are healthier themselves. In fact, some studies show that the opening of a farm stand or farmers’ market can actually improve health outcomes even in populations under other stresses. In addition, studies from the US show that communities with a diversity of crops are healthier than communities where a single commodity crop is grown. So next time you have an urge to pull into an Abbotsford farm stand, visit a farmer’s market, or even linger over the local produce choices in the grocery store, do it. Evidence suggests you will be healthier in the long run.

This evidence also lends support to Vancouver’s requirement that food trucks use fresh local food when possible. I bristle a bit at such rules, but given I actually once ate a hotdog with donuts on it, perhaps having more green choices is a good thing. And next time I choose an apartment, I’m going to make sure there is a green grocer in walking distance.

The full report is available here. It’s pretty long – but there is an executive summary!


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