The Human and Environmental Health Impacts of Food Quality Among Emergency Food Providers
Human health and environmental health are inextricably entwined, and the ways in which we grow, process, package, transport, market, and consume food are critical factors for both human and environmental health. The current industrial food system in the United States has numerous adverse effects on environmental and human health, which significantly impact the millions of food insecure Americans who receive their nutritional needs from emergency food providers (American Public Health Association, 2007). The widespread food insecurity in the United States and the increasing prevalence of obesity among adults and children have drawn attention to the role that emergency food services should play in providing healthful foods to vulnerable populations. These trends led Ceres Community Project, an organization based in Sebastopol, California that provides organic meals to low-income people facing serious illness, to begin researching the impact of the industrial food system on food insecurity in the United States. Ceres research highlighted the need for the organization to take on a leadership role in a national campaign to address hunger and food insecurity by promoting organic and sustainably raised food as the “Best Practice” model for emergency food providers. This paper represents the findings from the culmination of a 300-hour research-based fieldwork experience performed at Ceres Community Project, which emphasizes the need for further research on the harmful effects of industrial agriculture on human and environmental health, and the necessity for policies to improve the quality of food offered by emergency food providers.