May 13, 2021
Mar 23, 2021
The phrase, “you are what you eat,” while sounding silly, holds merit and can guide individuals to healthier lifestyles. With March being National Nutrition Month, it is the perfect time to reflect on the importance of a well-balanced diet and its implications for a variety of sectors of health. Put quite plainly, food is fuel and is necessary for our bodies to be able to carry out the metabolic processes that keep us alive and healthy. Of course, as everyone knows, different foods have different types of health benefits (or lack thereof). A diet consisting of natural whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein is promoted by the USDA MyPlate platform. Not only do nutritious diets make us feel good, but they also keep us healthy and protected from chronic health conditions. With 45% of all deaths in children under the age of 5 being due to poor nutrition as well as poor diet being linked to heart disease and stroke, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes, the issue of nutrition is pervasive in our society and requires mindful decision making [Operation USA; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics].
Solving problems surrounding poor nutrition is easier said than done. Geographical location, financial stability, and access to information intersect in a unique manner when discussing access to and obtaining nutritious foods. Food insecurity, defined as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle,” is a concern for approximately 13.7 million households across the United States [Feeding America; Silva]. The current coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity, with 1 in 4 families facing food insecurity during 2020 [Silva]. As mentioned before, food insecurity can be caused by food deserts, which are regions that have limited or no access to affordable and nutritious foods, which can lead to individuals in these regions opting for more affordable -- and often, processed and unhealthy -- foods, such as fast food. With the strong link between diet and health, families facing food insecurity and in food deserts are more likely to have the chronic conditions aforementioned and other health problems.
Wise, Virginia, located in the Appalachian region, is a region where roughly 21% of individuals live under the poverty line and therefore, may face insecurity due to inability to afford nutritious foods. Likewise, individuals in Wise also have rates of diabetes and obesity higher than the national average, which clearly outlines the health implications of a lack of a well-balanced diet. LIG Global, while partnering with The Health Wagon, has been able to make major advancements in addressing food insecurity for the community surrounding Wise, VA. In order to provide Wise County residents access to affordable and healthy foods, LIG Global created a community garden that is free of charge. This community garden consists of five raised garden beds, one large ground plot, free seeds and tools, and guidance from local farming enthusiasts to help maintain fruitful crops. Using the community garden, individuals can plant nutritious fruits and vegetables for themselves and their families that they can implement into their diet. Not only does this community garden provide residents with access to fresh produce, but it also promotes an increased level of physical activity, as the individuals must care for their crops. Moreover, the garden promotes mindfulness about diet and nutrition, as it encourages individuals to be intentional with the foods they choose to grow and eat with a focus on a healthy lifestyle. In creating this community garden, LIG Global has helped Wise County residents independently improve their diets which, in turn, will improve their overall health.
The community garden, in conjunction with the annual medical clinic that LIG Global and The Health Wagon host, has the potential to alter the health profile of Wise County’s residents for years to come. By growing more nutritious foods and receiving proper medical care of conditions potentially caused by a poor diet, individuals will be able to lead healthier lives. While food insecurity is still a major concern for individuals around the world, efforts like those of LIG Global can minimize the problem by providing individuals who are food insecure with the resources and information to develop a more nutritious diet in a sustainable manner.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Chronic Disease Prevention Infographic.” EatRight, 26 Oct. 2017, www.eatright.org/food/resources/eatright-infographics/chronic-disease-prevention-infographic.
Feeding America. “What Is Food Insecurity in America?” Hunger and Health, hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/understand-food-insecurity/.
Operation USA. “National Nutrition Month– Shocking Stats From Around the World.” Operation USA, 21 Mar. 2014, www.opusa.org/national-nutrition-month-shocking-stats-on-nutrition-around-the-world/.
Silva, Christianna. “Food Insecurity In The U.S. By The Numbers.” NPR, NPR, 27 Sept. 2020, www.npr.org/2020/09/27/912486921/food-insecurity-in-the-u-s-by-the-numbers.