The History Of Our Food System: What’s Wrong And How To Fix It

What do wealth inequality, chronic disease, climate change, and the industrialization of agriculture all have in common? The answer is food, and more specifically our food system. Very few people are able to connect the dots between some of the world’s most pressing issues in a way that lets us see the big picture. My guest on today’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, Mark Bittman, is someone who does exactly that in an effort to achieve a different future for food. The latter is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Mark asked the simple question of what a good food system would look like and recognized that what we currently have is a food system geared towards profiting a few at the expense of many. It’s also a system that simply can’t endure over time. He wrote Animal, Vegetable, Junk to look at where we are and how we’re going to get out of it. Mark’s approach to improvement involves measured, incremental changes. We take a look back at the history behind our modern food system to understand our current situation, which includes sustained systemic racism, health disparities, and poor monocrop practices dating back to the nineteenth century. Amidst this global pandemic, where we’re seeing huge investments and fast action to find a cure, Mark and I pause to ask why we can’t see that same eagerness in tackling the chronic disease epidemic. Those with food-related illnesses, like type 2 diabetes and obesity, are at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and death. Those same food-related chronic diseases were already an epidemic in our country, yet they receive little acknowledgment as the public health crises that they are. Mark and I discuss this and what types of interventions we need to support as part of a solution. Mark’s key endpoints for a better food system include getting land into the hands of the people who want to farm it with sustainable and regenerative practices, producing a variety of crops that are healthy to consume, and distributing those crops locally and affordably. That won’t happen overnight, but the future of food can most certainly be brighter if we commit to doing the work and starting with small steps. I hope you’ll tune in to this week’s episode. This episode is brought to you by Bioptimizers, Thrive Market, and Athletic Greens. Right now you can try BioOptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough for 10% off, just go to and use the code HYMAN10 at checkout. Thrive is offering all Doctor's Farmacy listeners an amazing deal. You will receive an extra 25% off your first purchase and a free gift when you sign up for Thrive Market. Just head over to Athletic Greens is offering Doctor’s Farmacy listeners a full year supply of their Vitamin D3/K2 Liquid Formula free with your first purchase, plus 5 free travel packs. Just go to to take advantage of this great offer.
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