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A remarkable policy resolution came out last week during the American Medical Association's (AMA) annual meting. They voted to support "practices and policies that promote and model a healthy and ecologically sustainable food system." The health part is expected, but the "ecologically sustainable" portion is a surprising huge step forward for organic and local food advocates and producers around this country. My fellow board members at The Organic Center celebrated as word of the resolution came out. Finally, information from the AMA promoting the benefits of organic and local foods, raised in a sustainable manner, with the environment's health, as well as our nation's people's health in mind. This is a significant step up from the same message of 'get your five a day, eat less meat, more fiber and less fats' that we've been hearing for years.
The report, created by the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health, says it pretty clearly,
"Beyond the issue of poor nutritional quality are methods of food production and distribution that have additional negative effects on human and environmental health. These methods have contributed to the development of antibiotic resistance; air and water pollution; contamination of food and water with animal waste, pesticides, hormones, and other toxins; increased dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels (including fertilizers); and a food system that is increasingly vulnerable to accidental or intentional contamination. These methods of food production and distribution are inherent parts of the prevailing agricultural system, which is may be referred to as "conventional farming, modern agriculture, or industrial farming."
In other words, it's time to find a new way of doing things.
As part of the AMA policy resolution:
- That our AMA support practices and policies in medical schools, hospitals, and other health care facilities that support and model a healthy food system, which provides food and beverages of naturally high nutritional quality, is environmentally sustainable and economically viable, and supports human dignity and justice.
- That our AMA encourage the development of a healthier food system through the US Farm Bill and other federal legislation.
- That our AMA consider working with other health care and public health organizations to educate the health care community and the public about the importance of healthy and ecologically sustainable food systems.
According to the same Council on Science and Public Health report "Optimal public health requires a good, healthy food supply, but the United States cannot have a good, healthy food supply without a sustainable food system."
Samuel Fromartz, author of Organic, Inc. made an interesting reference at the end of his blog posting about the AMA resolution. He wrote on how the AMA fought with JI Rodale, an early pioneer and oft-called father of organic farming, for his over-zealous promotion of vitamins throughout the 1950's and '60s. And, though it may have taken them decades, the AMA has finally changed its position and endorsed one point that Rodale had right all along: "That the way food is produced effects health."