I'm spending a quiet long weekend working on my book.
As part of the setting the stage, I make the point that this is not your mama's midlife, or grandma's. Fundamental societal inputs that were unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands, of years were altered for the worse in our lifetime.
I feel a bit like a Thanksgiving grinch, unearthing a bunch of bad news about obesity and the food system in the U.S.
Industrialization of our food system, introduction of plastics and chemicals are having widespread negative effect at the same time climate change is accelerating.
Here are a few key infographics. You may be tempted to get discouraged and that is understandable. Try not to. We've got suggestions as to how to keep from feeling overwhelmed at the end of the post.
This is not a rant post. I prefer to let the numbers and visuals tell their story. When we bring them all together like this, we get a more complete picture.
Lets start with some good news. We saw the adoption of Title IX in 1972.
More women enrolling in college.
Lead levels decreased and some large cities made big improvements in air quality.
And finally, more female representation in Congress.
Challenges: Food Supply
This is arguably the biggest and worst change that happened in the last 50 years. Farmland consolidation, industrialization of farming, GMO crops with greater fertilizer and pesticide use are feeding a food industry that is producing harmful processed foods that have increased obesity and diabetes and possibly autism at alarming rates.
As we export more and more processed food and industrialized farming practices, the rest of the world's rates of obesity and diabetes climb as well. I live in Mexico and see this first hand.
Many of us are gluten intolerant, or if not, we all know someone who is. However, sometimes these same people can eat bread or pasta products in other countries, or made from heritage wheat sources in the U.S.
This graphic comes from an article citing a study done on rats and mapping the incidence of several types of cancer, including thyroid, to the timing of the adoption of GMO corn and soy and the pesticide Glyphosate. I remember noticing a few years ago how many women seemed to be having thyroid issues, including me. (Although in my case its partly genetic; my grandmother, dad and older brother all had or have low thyroid.)
I already blogged about the increase of sugar in processed food during the low fat craze of the 1980s as a major shift that happened right under our noses. This graph shows how obesity rates increased from the time the low fat guidelines were implemented.
Autism. Causing a strain on families and our educational system. Some sources cite vaccines, others cite poor dietary options. Again, don't we all know someone who's life is touched by Autism, especially among our boys? Its infuriating.
This statistic shows prescription drug expenditure in the United States from 1960 to 2017.
Plastics and chemicals
One example: PBDE in Breast Milk.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, are organobromine compounds that are used as flame retardant. Like other brominated flame retardants, PBDEs have been used in a wide array of products, including building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles. They were introduced in the 1970s. The below chart is from a study of Swedish women. The source notes that breast tissue sampled in the 1960s from women in the San Francisco Bay Area reveals no PBDEs, today they have some of the highest levels in the country. They are carcinogenic endocrine disruptors and pass from the mother to the fetus and child.
Info like this can make us feel defeated before we even start. We all feel that way sometimes.
The main thing is to remember that you are not alone in perhaps not knowing what to do next, in feeling too busy.
This is what you do next: If you haven't done so recently, you re-assess where want to end up in a few years. Then you work back in 6 month chunks. That may not, on the surface, seem like it has anything to do with the bigger problems of the world. But it does.
I talk about this in Chapter 2 of the book, which I'm working on tomorrow. I really need to think of a name for it, right?
The second essential key is this - find a community of women who will hold you accountable to your biggest self, in a fun, exciting way.
Keep in touch and we'll be talking more about that soon too!