Brice Lalonde is former Minister of the Environment in France, one of the founders of 'Friends of the Earth' in France, President and founder of 'Generation Ecologie' (french environmental movement).
Environmentalism applies to every aspect of life and to diet in particular, which is why I was happy to accept writing a preface to this book by Bruno Comby; it presents nutritional environmentalism and follows his previous books, all in the domain of prevention, nutrition, and applied environmentalism: how to stop smoking, stress management, a better diet, efficiency in work, entomophagy (eating insects), and better organization1. Environmentalism, beyond political and scientific discussions, is only of interest if it is put in practise in our daily lives. Nutrition is part of these elementary acts that we repeat several times every day and that make up a large part of our existence.
Until now, man struggled to dominate nature and exploit its resources for his immediate profit. Today, we have to learn how to harmonize the satisfaction of our our daily needs with the respect of the environment. For a long time, we ate our meals without caring much about the deferred consequences of our dietary behavior, but we are now discovering little by little that we also have to take in consideration some ecological considerations in the determination of our diet. The food industry has produced what are now called 'food industry products' for several decades, as a function of immediate economic criteria; these have led to a decrease in the flavor of food, to the profit of a flourishing processing and distribution industry. The development of collective catering and fast-foods is the result of industrial agriculture. We have less time to go shopping and prepare food. This attitude, unfortunately, also has dramatic consequences on public health and the environment. Our present dietary habits favor a polluting food industry and a waste of energy through excessive cooking and processing of food.
Take the example of a fruit such as an apple: we can consume it as it is, or in the form of apple pudding. If we eat it in its natural form, we do not pollute, we benefit from all its vitamins and flavor, whereas in the form of an apple pudding dessert, an apple is less profitable for our health (its vitamin content has decreased), has less flavor (sugar has to be added), will be badly digested (bad food combinations in the pudding) and, in addition, energy was required to cook it and manufacture its container, which will finally end up on a refuse dump and pollute the
1 See other works by same author: How to Stop Smoking, Stress-Control, Power Sleep, Exams in Your Pocket, Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy, Maximize Immunity, Revolutionary Stress-Management Program, and Eating Delicious Insects.
environment. We have everything to gain, therefore, with a little good sense: eat apples raw, as well as all other fruits, and why not our whole diet, as Bruno Comby suggests? Good sense is environmentalism in action.
We usually choose our foods according to three main criteria: their weight, their price, and their taste, an tend do disregard : the quality of foods, their nutritional value, our resulting health and well-being, the prevention of health risks (cardiovascular accidents and illnesses, despite the fact that their human and financial cost is far from negligible), conviviality, the preservation of the environment, the protection of our species and of the planet for future generations. These factors, although their importance is difficult to estimate precisely, are fundamental and should play an essential part in our choices. This is what the nutritional environmentalism proposes.
We now know, as this book also confirms, that a great number of illnesses can be prevented by a more ecological way of life. By eating better, we can in particular prevent cardio-vascular disease (which kills one in two people at an early age in developed countries), as well as certain allergies and forms of cancer. The basic rules of daily environmentalism should be taught to children from their youngest age. A more ecological diet would contribute to solving the problem of the increasing cost of social security and public health expenses. The question of health is often mentioned in political discussions in terms of health care benefits (all patients should have access to medical care and be properly cared for), but another approach is possible, in terms of prevention and helping people be responsible about their health by instructing them a healthy lifestyle. We are in fact responsible for our health, as it is the result of our way of life and of eating, sleeping, smoking, and working. We can live in good health or, on the contrary, quickly become unwell. Environmentalism means, above all, emphasizing prevention so that we can at last benefit fully from the old saying "preventing is better than curing". This benefit would not only be financial for individuals and collectivities (less medical care expenditure and less absenteeism at work for example), but, better still, would mean greater vitality, efficiency, quality of living, well-being, and comfort for all.
There is no "perfect diet" applicable to everyone. But there is a simple, pleasant, and easily applicable way to eat better: eat more raw fruit and vegetables that are rich in vitamins and fibers, learn how to balance our meals, avoid cooked fats as much as possible as these are harmful to our cardiovascular system, avoid combining too many different foods together, choose quality foods whenever possible, and, above all, enjoy life and eat in a pleasant and friendly environment, because that is important too. We must also learn to beware from "food gurus". Nutrition is a science, and any kind of diet must first be consistent with all available scientific nutritional knowledge. There are too many dogmatic, dull, restrictive and moralizing nutritional. Closed and monolithic systems that pretend they possess the truth do not lead to people's fulfilment, but rather to their confinement.
Bruno Comby is both a scientist and an environmentalist, who is striving to propose a constructive, open nutritional approach. He proposes but does not impose, he simply orientates us towards better dietary habits, and, as a result, we can all apply dietary environmentalism and benefit from better nutrition in our own environment. Company managers who eat at the restaurant every day for business, mothers who prepare meals for the whole family, students on a strict budget, single men or women with no time to cook, sportsmen wanting to improve their performance, all these people will benefit from this book.
Wanting to improve our nutrition, is a way of thinking that leads us to a greater ecological awareness and, for society as a whole, this also means greater importance granted to environmentalism.
This book is not just a theoretical work, but above all a practical guide that is easy to understand, filled with examples and enlivened with delightful drawings by Moebius, an artist of genius, whose interest in environmentalism is well-known.
We have neglected and sacrificed our health and quality of life for years, emprisoned as we were in artificial life habits, in the name of immediate pleasure and productivity. From this point of view, nutrition and gastronomy were considered as the short-term satisfaction of a vital need. It is high time that we take longer-term effects into account in our choices, as well as the qualitative effects of the foods we eat on our bodies.
Bruno Comby is a person full of good sense, who manages a prevention and nutrition research laboratory. In the following pages he invites you to share his wide scientific and human experience of dietary environmentalism. Read this book carefully and you will not be disappointed, as it can really help you to live better. It is at the heart of the ecological debate, and this is why I hope that reading this book will make you want to apply its guiding lines in your daily life, to enhance your vitality, health, and well-being, as well as your performance and efficiency.
If we want to be of some use during our brief passage on earth, we would be wise, before wanting to change other people, to change ourselves first. When we have learnt to live better, a little corner of the planet will be a better place, and we can then, all together, advance towards a better world.
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