Recently, before an audience of hundreds at the New York Botanical Garden, Josh Viertel of Slow Food USA, quoted a frightful statistic:  Currently in the African-American and Latino communities of the U.S., children age 9 and under have a 50% chance of developing diabetes.

Fifty percent.  One in two.  Heads or tails.

Diabetes and obesity are tightly linked and a lot has been said about the “cheap calorie.”  In the American food system, it’s less expensive to eat at McDonald’s than it is to go to the farmer’s market and make a stir-fry.  We also know that one’s diet is a main contributor to statistics like the 50/50 one quoted above.

This summer many Americans are talking about our health care system.  I believe if we want to improve health care, it’s important that we also change the way we produce and consume our food.

But before we explore the macro view of American health, I have a simple question:  WHY are processed foods bad for us?

In his book, Organic Inc., author Samuel Fromartz offers an explanation.  As I read and write more for Groundswell, I find my learning curve is a line straight up.  Can I admit to you that I’ve never known the role of the pancreas before?  Here’s the passage from Fromartz’s book:

Page 15:  “…A diet high in refined foods…[is]…the engine of a boom-bust cycle of satiation and hunger that leads to weight gain.  The body easily digests these foods, spiking blood sugar levels and pushing the pancreas into overdrive to produce insulin and channel the excess sugar to muscles, organs, or fat.  By working so hard, the insulin eventually depletes blood sugar, causing energy to flag and hunger to arise, leading to a new cycle of consumption and depletion.”

Ronald Eyes The Word - Macy's Parade Eve - Thanksgiving 2007

Ronald Eyes The Word - Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Eve