Eating Well Isn’t All About You

We live in an individualistic culture, where everything is about me, me, me and very little about us, us, us.

In the Western world, our important life questions are most often about what studies we do, which get us thinking about which job we will have, and whether or not it will be well paying enough so that we can buy a big house, and so that hopefully there will be enough for us to take fancy vacations to help us relax.

Our general cultural dialogue is very rarely about our impact on our community. Instead, it’s about what we as individuals need and want. You could look at this individualistic way of thinking as biological; we are trying to survive, and therefore, to each their own. Of course we make decisions based upon our own well-being. But there’s also the other way of looking at it, considering the necessity of more communal thinking for our success and survival; if we tribe together with those around us, we protect ourselves, better our situation.

The me is a part of the us.

We are all a part of a community, and our actions that affect the community in turn affect ourselves. When we only consider the me, we don’t consider our individual impact on the people and planet around us. We take, take and take some more, because there are no immediate consequences to pay. But someone, somewhere in the world, pays those consequences.

In food, this plays out in many ways. When people argue about the benefits of organic, it’s about whether or not organic produce is healthier for them the consumer, as opposed to healthier for the environment and the producer, whose health isn’t threatened by pesticides. When people talk about buying local, it’s often about how the purchase makes them feel good, not that it actually helps to improve the social network and economy of the community around them.

Your actions have a larger impact than the nutritional value of what’s on your plate. Fortunately, thinking about the impact of those actions is good for your health too. What’s good for the community as a whole is also good for us as individuals.

If we started putting communal benefits in front of individual, not only would we create a food system that was better for the environment and people producing the food, but we would build one that would improve our own lives as well, providing us access to healthier, more sustainable food.

When we focus on more sustainable food, we build community. And when we focus on the benefit of our community, we build more sustainable food systems. The way forward isn’t an individualistic one, it’s a communal one.

Building a more sustainable food system means more collective thinking. It requires thinking about the whole – the soil, the plant, the animals, the humans – and not just the me.

Originally published on EcoSalon

Comments 5

  1. Jollia

    Well written.

    I recently came back from a trip in Southern Africa and came upon an epiphany of the realization of our western individualistic society.

    We strive for eating organic because of how it makes us feel and we forget to look at the impact it has on our environment and our community.

    I think it’s important for us to look at food holistically in regards to its impact on the entire ecosystem of our planet and not just the way in which it affects us.

    Because, as you said “The “me” is a component of “us””.

    I recently wrote a post about a coinciding topic of your post. I’d love for you to check it out.


    • Anna Brones

      Well said, and thank you for sharing your link with me!

  2. Sienna

    I’m here to say that while I agree, that you write these types of articles makes me even happier! I love the conscious behind your blog and for that reason this is my favorite food blog. Way to go! I love your stuff!!!

    • Anna Brones

      That is so sweet of you 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  3. Cassie Tran

    SPOT ON! Did you know that your healthy habits can influence others to do the same? I helped my family and friends make much healthier choices than they did before–and it’s so amazing that they share my interests!

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