Got your attention? Call me judgmental (many do), but I assure you it’s primarily passion. No, I’m not embarking on a “mine is better” contest for the sake of food competition. Not in the slightest! Instead, I‘m inviting you to think about how your food and food habits could improve, even a little.

By “improve,” I mean quality. By “quality,” I mean local and sustainable, with as few toxins as possible and the lowest possible carbon footprint.

Why? Because our earth is sick, our food system is unwell, and all living things are tethered between those essential, fragile states.

With conversations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference going in circles (again) and Thanksgiving on the horizon, this is the perfect time to reflect on our environmental impact and what that means for your own health. Thirty years of discussing improvements to the environment have resulted in a worse climate outcome than predicted. More extinct species, rainforest obliteration, pollution, delicate ecosystems. More imbalance. More taking, less regenerating. Multi-gazillion dollars spent to save salmon, only to find that at this pace they’ll be extinct in a dozen years.

When asked how your personal health reflects the health of the planet, I hope you’ll answer, “symbiotically!” But for those suffering from any ailment—autoimmune disease, cancer, migraines, SIBO, mold, depression, anxiety, fatigue, that undiagnosed feeling of being “off”—I ask, “How do your environment and habits reflect your health?” Even for those without any major complaints or illness, what might your future health look like if you continue eating the way you eat now? What could change if you begin eating with more nature consciousness?

Your answers matter to me. As your community functional nutritionist, I am ever curious about the function of your body’s complex systems and which small changes may help you improve your health in tandem with becoming more harmonious with local and larger food systems. As the holidays approach, is there one small change that you can commit to that would improve your health, support local producers, farmers, and businesses, and also be more environmentally productive?

Personally, I could probably lay off the sugar (I have guilty pleasures, too!), yet I’ll indulge in a locally-made cookie here and there.

Over the centuries, Thanksgiving traditions have fostered gathering and cooking together in the kitchen, sharing recipes, baked dishes and spiked egg nog. Do your recipes today use local, seasonal squash, onions, and potatoes? Could they?

Thinking of the future, how can our daily actions reflect our love of nature? As we recycle, recreate in the woods, pick up trash, how else can we cultivate family values that show our children or grandchildren that this earth matters? The easy answer resides in our food choices. We will continue to travel, drive, and buy plastic, but every meal can include local, pesticide-free food that both honors the good work of our farmers and pays homage to the earth from which we all sprouted and will return.

Food, health, and the earth are intimately intertwined. The only way around our food, health and earth dilemma is through it. Like breaking trail, let’s become comfortable breaking patterns that no longer serve our food system, our bodies, or the planet. Let’s start today.

May each of you have the BEST meals of the year in these final weeks of 2021.

Jamie Truppi, MSN, is an integrative nutritionist focusing on functional foods and family wellness.

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