This year has been eye-opening on multiple fronts. During the latest Well+Good TALK, The Future of Healthy Eating in 2020 and Beyond, four food industry experts discussed the impact of the pandemic and racism on healthy eating.
“Food is bigger than just what you put on your plate. It is shaped by our cultures, our values, and our circumstances. And what we value, how we live, and what is considered to be worthy of the cultural mainstream are all being re-examined in this moment,” said Jessie Van Amburg, senior food and health editor at Well+Good. “We’re at an inflection point, and the truism ‘you are what you eat’ has never meant more than right now.”
What food industry experts hope the future of healthy eating looks like
1. Doing more food sharing
Maya Feller, MS, RD, a registered dietitian nutritionist and nationally-recognized nutrition expert, loves the idea of food sharing, building communal gardens, and growing together.
“I can even say in Brooklyn, where I am, my neighbor on one side brings me Trinidadian food, I hand the neighbor on the other side greens from the community garden that someone gave me. And I do think that’s a way for us forward,” she says.
2. Putting more thought into who you support
Money is power, and you get to decide where your money goes. Because of that, Camilla Marcus, a chef, founder of west~bourne, and co-founder of Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR), hopes people continue to think about where they purchase from and who they’re supporting when it comes to their health and the food they eat. “Think about really supporting restaurants that speak to your values and where you identify with the owners and the environment,” she says.
Watch the entire Well+Good TALK below:
3. Rethinking what you’ve been taught about healthy eating
Ebony Butler, PhD, a licensed psychologist and food relationship strategist, hopes people continue to take a more critical look at how food and health has been taught to them.
“I’m hopeful that people will begin to keep this curiosity going about really, what am I being told? What does this mean? And really taking ownership into defining health by terms that feel good to them and their community, versus what this larger diet culture is telling us,” she says. “People are questioning the people who are making laws about food. People are questioning people’s intentions and becoming a lot more vocal about the things that are happening in their communities around food.”
4. Not being afraid of sticking to your culture and traditions
The food system tends to forget about culture, and Navina Khanna, director of HEAL Food Alliance, says she hopes that’s something that changes in the future.
“Food is our most intimate connection to our bodies and to our cultures, [yet] we’re forced to separate from that culture and forced to separate from our traditional food ways. Those aren’t considered healthy ways, even though those have been nourishing for us for generations,” she says. “There are so many BIPOC producers and communities that are growing amazing food in really healthy ways and ecological ways, and are poised to feed communities, but have never had the investment in them to be able to do that. Lacking access to the policies and structural support and technical assistance that would make it possible to get those amazing collard greens, for example, to a school where kids could eat that instead.”