Why Health Is Not Determined By Our Healthcare System

We can’t expect to create healthy bodies if we aren’t growing healthy food. But our food system is broken and involves many barriers, especially for underserved communities like North American Indigenous people living on reservations. I talk a lot about the overwhelming burden of chronic disease. Unfortunately, tribes relying on government commodities (white sugar, white flour, and white fat) are among some of the most susceptible to those illnesses and we’re now seeing them fare much worse against COVID-19 as a result. For that reason, food sovereignty is an extremely important topic of our time.

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I sit down with Paulette Jordan to talk about her experiences as a proud member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and what kinds of changes are needed in order to reverse the health issues that Indigenous and other populations like these are facing at increasing rates. Growing up, Paulette learned so much from her elders about how to care for the land and understand that what we put in our bodies can act as medicine. But despite traditional roots, she’s seen how powerful our social determinants of health are to create dis-ease. Our socioeconomic status, education, neighborhoods, social support networks, physical environments, and many other factors are extremely influential in determining our health outcomes.

On reservations, the lack of accessibility to health-promoting foods and healthcare is not setting Indigenous people up for success. Paulette and I discuss what positive changes here might look like and how she has been taking action. Paulette and I agree that regenerative agriculture is one of our greatest solutions to overcome these challenges, and how programs like community-supported agriculture and neighborhood gardens serve as foundational pillars towards food sovereignty. I hope you’ll tune in to learn more.

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