Perspectives: “Good Living” by Blue Lemay

Excelsior College will be hosting social media discussions all this week surrounding the popular Netflix documentary, What The Health. We asked a few of our subject matter experts to give their thought-provoking commentary on the documentary and the topics surrounding the issue.

*Please note that the author’s opinion is their own.

“Even if this documentary is only 60% correct, what would that mean?”  This was the first question I asked after watching What the Health. Other than a few colds in my life, I’ve never been ill, and so serious questions about health had never really occurred to me. This was the first documentary, however, that clearly showed how health is not simply a personal concern; rather, personal health issues are intimately connected to the social and economic health of our nation. From the documentary, it’s clear that big business has vested interests in industrializing food through huge corporate farming to sell us processed foods. What matters to them is not the damage to the environment, the treatment of animals, or the toxic exposure to certain communities, but their profit. Pharmaceuticals don’t care about preventing illness, but selling pills. We may think cancer, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems are the inevitable results of genetics and our family history, but well-known doctors across the country state that nutrition is the biggest factor in determining our health. So, after watching numerous other health documentaries, my wife and I began to shift over to a plant-based lifestyle.

After two months, what did we find out? Well, we’re not dying. I’m not dying because I lack protein just because we don’t eat meat. Plus, I eat more of a variety of vegetables and foods than I have ever eaten before. Most importantly, though, it’s really made us examine what is important to us. Do we really want a lifestyle that is so busy, so full, and so exhausting that we need to constantly rely on quick and easy processed foods? What I did not expect to find, then, is how much I began to value food. We signed up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and we began to plan our meals around what a local farmer shared with us, thereby supporting our local economy. My wife and I spend more time together in the kitchen now, and that just feels good. That’s what good living means to us. Good and just living depends not only on my health alone, but how we invest in our relationship with each other and with other Americans.

Written by V. Blue Lemay, Program Director for Humanities, School of Liberal Arts