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08/13/20 (TWOS Days 4)

Aug 13, 2020

I took today and tomorrow off from work. Lately, I’ve been finding it really difficult to focus at work, so I decided to give myself a nice four day weekend to reset and relax.

Today was one of the best days I’ve had in a while. I lazily woke up around 8 or 9, heated up an extra cup of chai from the fridge (not great, and just spent an hour or so on my phone, but not in a doomscrolling way. I let a twitter poll decide what my cardio would be. The internet chose jump rope, so I went to the backyard and skipped rope for about a half an hour. It was an uncharacteristically hot day in San Francisco, almost feeling like it was summer in a normal city. With my black Linkin Park shirt, I got a really good sweat in, despite the annoying clucks of the neighbor’s chickens. I listened to a podcast all the while, alternating my attention between the pain of the workout and the white men speaking in my ears. Afterwards, I went inside and did a resistance band arm workout, which also felt great. The rest of the day was dedicated to making a pita sandwich, calling my mum, laying in the park staring at the treetops, grabbing groceries, making a smoothie (frozen berries, chia seeds, basil seeds, sunflower seeds, almond butter, spinach, milk, greek yogurt ,and dandelion greens), FaceTiming a friend, watching basketball and now, writing.

It turns out that doing all of the things that people say you should do to be healthy actually make you feel pretty darn good. Although I’m sore and tired now, my mood is the best it’s been for weeks, and I feel hopeful in spite of the time I spent on my phone and the many articles I read about Georgia schools.

I also spent some time listening to podcasts by my favorite fitness influencer Joe Holder, who is focused on a holistic approach the health, and making healthy lifestyles available to everyone, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. Joe mentioned the statistic that [less than 3% of Americans live a healthy lifestyle]. Thinking about how today was anomalous in terms of my workout and diet, that tracks.

Despite the fact that we live in an individualistic capitalist machine where we’re meant to produce as much as possible, the machine doesn’t make it easy to optimize the way we live our lives for optimal output. Because the economic system just sees human beings as capital, our needs aren’t considered beyond a very superficial level. From the high level perspective of the market, making as much processed food out of corn and wheat is the cheapest way to fuel the capital (feed us). And of course, the government wants to enable that efficiency as much as possible so we have farm subsidies for corn and wheat factory farms, which is why those crops significantly cheaper to farm. Meanwhile, farms making fresh produce struggle to offer affordable fruits and veggies without subsidies. The downstream effect of that is that grocery stores are incentivized to sell more processed food because it makes them more money. And, the average consumer is incentivized to buy processed food because it offers a higher value on a pure calorie per dollar basis. From there, we have the many longterm effects on cognitive function and chronic health problems that arise from poor diets. And this doesn’t even include the millions of Americans affected by food insecurity (which can include lack of access to healthy foods).

All of this is a long way of saying that there are problems in nearly every aspect of how food is handled in the United States. All of this is my general understanding of things, which may not be 100% accurate, but the general gist of it is that the food system of our country was poorly designed, making it perfect to develop the obesity epidemic that we see. Beyond the obvious existential threat of COVID, the US has a longterm problem on its hands with its inability to offer healthy food to its citizens. When you consider the dire state of our healthcare system, it feels even more insane that there wouldn’t be a greater amount of preventative public health work being done to avoid setting up a majority of citizens up for trips to hospitals to bankrupt them all.

There are clear answers for some problems in the USA, but food is something that continues to be a conundrum. In fact, one could consider it an issue that extends back to the beginning of civilization with the domestication of wheat and barley thousands of years ago. Before farming, humans were hunter-gatherers, who were known to spend less time working than Neolithic farmers or any subsequent human civilizations. These hunter-gatherers also managed to have more diverse and nutrient-rich diets, though their numbers tended to remain small. The rise of farming made food more secure, but it was less nutritious and required more effort to farm. Children became a way to get more labor to keep up with the demand of cultivating these crops. The population increased and the only way to maintain it was with… more farming.

The moral of the story is that none of these problems would exist if farming never started and we could just vibe in the forest hunting and gathering.

I truly don’t know how this blog post about my enjoyable day off turned into a poor explanation of how food works in the USA. Either way, I think today taught me that I should focus more on health. Not just my own, but also seeing how any work to improve things also includes plans to address the issues with inequality in food access and making healthy food as universally accessible as possible.

Anyways, as always, if you have any thoughts or opinions or corrections, feel free to reach out to yaboi on twitter @niknaps or email me at hey@niksethi.com.