Fighting for Food Equity

Part of me lives angry - especially at work. So, I'm surprised, but pleased when my patients tell me, "You're always smiling" "You're always so positive - even with all you see." I'm glad that I can hide that. My colleagues are great, my boss is fantastic and I love my patients - so it's none of the usual. Today was a hard day for a couple of reasons, so the anger is at the surface and as the day comes to a close, it's mixed with a tired sadness. I primarily diagnose brain dysfunction and provide some treatment - cog rehab, psychotherapy and behavioral health interventions. Today's patient provided a good example of what makes me angry. She has diabetes, several family members have died of diabetes and a brother is disabled from diabetes. She cannot work, has no income and is depressed. She had worked for several years, for very long shifts until she became ill. She is not alone. Many of our patients are on dialysis (complication from diabetes), several have had amputations, several have had strokes, several have had family members that have died. These patients are of all races and all educational levels. I also supervise a trainee in one of the endocrinology clinics that is called, "The Last Chance Clinic." After you get past the inconvenient name, you can imagine the stories of our patients in this clinic. A couple of years ago I realized that so much of our mental and cognitive health lies in the food we eat, by way of warding off the most common chronic conditions, including diabetes. It was then that I began to look for how I could be involved in positive change in this system - because without changes, we are all fighting a very painful, expensive, and unnecessary uphill battle. Diabetes and many of our current chronic conditions are preventable with diet and healthy lifestyles. A line from "The Weight of the Nation" goes something like: "This is not a national disaster like a tidal wave, we created this." The movie refers to what a vicious cycle has been created between the food industry, fast/stress eating and the medical industry. In agreement with social scientist Albert Bandura, the movie points out that individual choice is only a small piece of that puzzle. And so when people wonder why I spend so much time working towards the creating of a food cooperative, this is why. It's for there to be more food equity - so that everyone can live a healthy life. (It's not for the organic arugula, but that's OK, too.) I try to be positive and I it has been said before: "No one has more fun than KK!" And I think that is at my disadvantage at times because people who do not know me have come up with very off conclusions about who I am based on my seemingly confident, happy appearance. And it is true, I love life and I have fun, but part of me lives angry. But I'll accept this anger until we reverse this dangerous trend.

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