Food for Thought

fresh vegetables on napkin, rustic style photo

"Just because you eat doesn't mean you eat smart. It's hard to beat a $1.99 wing pack of three at a fast-food restaurant—it's so cheap—but that wing pack isn't feeding anyone, it's just pushing hunger back an hour."— Chef Mario Batali

This month's issue of AgeWise King County focuses on food and nutrition. But not all food equates to nutrition. As Mario Batali points out above, some food only postpones hunger. In fact, some food is so devoid of nutrients that it satisfies for only an hour and leaves the body starving for more.

The February 2012 Communities Count report, Adequate Food in King County, is telling. Food insecurity is unacceptably high in King County, especially among children, and King County residents do not have equal access to healthy food, with notable disparities in south Seattle and south King County.

A lifetime of eating non-nutritious foods guarantees a host of problems—like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and heart disease. How many of us know someone with one or more of those ailments? How many of us have served as a caregiver for a loved one with one of those chronic conditions? How many of us will live a restricted life and pay high costs because of non-communicable diseases that are largely preventable?

In very real terms, poor nutrition impacts quality of life—for ourselves and our loved ones—and costs society a tremendous amount.

As you read through the articles in this issue, please note the decades of good work funded by Aging and Disability Services (e.g., Meals on Wheels) and new initiatives like Farm to Table. Please read about the opportunities to take advantage of fresh local produce. And please think about your own food habits, and those of family members.  

It's time to think about food in the way Mother Nature intended—as fuel for our bodies and our minds. And it's time to understand that access to healthy foods is a societal problem that can be solved.

"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."—Mother Teresa

Contributor Tony Provine is serving his second term as chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (advisorychair@agewisekingcounty.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council, when they occur. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.

Senior Hunger Rates Continue to Rise

In May, the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger released a new report on the challenges seniors faced in meeting their food needs in 2012. It tells the story of nine million seniors in the U.S. who face the threat of hunger and a 44 percent increase in the number of seniors experiencing that threat from 2007 to 2012. Although Washington state improved overall from 2011 to 2012, the report shows that 13.52 percent of Washington seniors face the threat of hunger.