Wednesday, September 2, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Rethinking Our Food Supply

 “The coronavirus disrupted the American food supply and it changed the way I shop, cook, and eat.”

        --Ruth Reichl, from her article “The Changing American Table”

If I had a magic wand…the world would embrace whole plant-based eating for the sake of the planet’s health and people’s health.

Imagine a world where there are no meat processing plants because people have switched to plant-based eating for good and animals are no longer slaughtered for human consumption.  Picture rivers and lakes near factory farms no longer being polluted by animal wastes.  Think about how much healthier communities will be when people no longer have animal factory farms polluting their neighborhoods.  

In 2020 meat processing plants, where animals are systematically cut apart and packaged as food and where workers are subjected to inhumane conditions, have become COVID-19 vectors for widespread disease transmission.  For the first time, many people saw the dark underworld of what it is like to work at a packing plant as one plant after another had widespread infections among workers.  Keeping working conditions a secret appears to be a priority of these companies where animals are factory farmed to supply people’s insatiable desire for beef, chicken, and pork. In April 2020, Donald Trump signed an executive order forcing these plants to remain open. 

On June 27, 2020, published a story called, “Why meat processing plants have become COVID-19 hotbeds”.  According to authors Anna Stewart, Ivana Kottasová, and Aleesha Khaliq: 

A number of scientists have suggested that the cold, humid environment inside the plants could help the virus spread. “These animal cadavers have to be sprayed with water all the time, so you have aerosols, and it’s cold…it is something that definitely deserves very thorough investigation,” [Dr. Thomas] Kamradt said.

Next time you order a quarter pounder burger, consider this little known fact: according to, it takes about 460 gallons of water to make a ¼ pound hamburger.  For every pound of beef, that’s about 1,840 gallons of water.  The average swimming pool takes 18,000-20,000 gallons of water to fill or the same amount of water needed for about 10 pounds of beef. 

As a longtime student of the benefits of plant-based eating such as reversing heart disease and diabetes, I believe the disruptions to America’s food supply due to COVID-19 are speeding up the realization that we must rethink our food supply.  There is a direct correlation between consumption of foods from animals and heart disease, obesity, and most cancers.  Using fossil fuels to move foods from one side of the country to another so that we can have access to fruits and vegetables year round makes no sense in light of the climate crisis emergency we have created by these practices we can no longer afford.  The picture below is a package of blackberries grown in California and sold in Indiana. 

Blackberries grown in California and sold in Indiana
It’s time to rethink our food supply.  

  • Eat real food. Avoid processed foods and foods from animals. 
  • Make most of what you eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  
  • Support local farmers.  
  • Learn how your food is grown and how far it traveled to get to you.  The longer it takes to harvest food and get it to your table, the less nutritional value it has.  
  • Factory farming of animals needs to stop.  When you shift to plant-based eating, the supply chain will shift to meet the new demands.  We are already beginning to see it with the increased demand for plant milks.   

Moving to whole plant-based eating is one of the powerful things we can do - for our own health and for the health of our home, Planet Earth.  

With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.