Not So Glorious Food – Obesity, Sparrows, Bee’s and Hedgehogs and why they are linked

Here is the speech I delivered tonight at Toastmasters…

slightly edited. By the time I had finished people were shifting in their seats and looking uncomfortable. Yes its scary but the truth cannot be denied that we need to create change, not now but last week. Even if I am half right (in facts and thoughts) things are looking more than grim.


The world is on the brink of ecological disaster that has nothing to do with oil, Our planet might be on the brink of becoming a barren uninhabitable wasteland and it has nothing to do with impending nuclear disaster, alien invasion or anything of the like, What if I said that where we and our planet are heading has everything to do with how we eat?

Has anyone else noticed that people are getting fatter? I know that’s not very PC but its all over the news, magazines, internet…2/3rds of the population of Australia is over weight or obese, this is the same in other nations such as the US, Canada, the UK and NZ, it varies a little but not enough to be impressively significant.

By the time we get to 2016 80% of the population will be over weight or obese, and in America within 2 decades over 95% of the population will be overweight or obese. This is scary but we hear it so much that I think that we maybe becoming immune.

But what about this, we have reached the tipping point where people are now unable to tell that they or their children are overweight because it has become so normal and if that isn’t bad enough then try this on for size… this is the first generation of children who will live shorter lives than their parents because their health is so compromised by what we are eating.

What has this got to do with ecological disaster? Well kind of everything actually. Our food is sick. And its making us sick. Ever since the second world war we have been tinkering with our food. We have drowned our crops in all sorts of chemicals to the point where in some parts of the world (including the UK and US) the ground is so sterile that nothing will grow without chemical assistance. To improve efficiency in crops seeds are now engineered (genetically modified) so that they not only contain pesticides but will not self seed this is not only ecologically damaging but economically damaging for farmers.

2/3rds of the worlds meat is grown in feed lots and feed grain. Meat is not a product, meat is an animal and these animals don’t experience life in pastures of green grass free to roam, the experience crowded and filthy conditions that are breeding grounds for super bugs that are finding their way into our food chain. Not only that but the grain that is feed to these animals could fix the world’s hunger problems (how ironic is that?)

Food in many cases is now so nutrient difficient that vitamins and minerals need to be added back in. Extra salt and sugar are added as well as chemicals to make it palateable. We no longer eat food – we largely eat food-like products that are the result of genetic engineering and unethical production practices.


And while we’ve all been focusing on the Obesity Epidemic what else has been happening? Apart from the world cup and that missing malaysian airlines plane?

What do you know about hedgehogs? Yes they are those ridiculously cute spiney little critters that have been snuffling around England since the dawn of time..but did you know that they are in decline or as one expert put it.. the population has taken a nose dive. They are dying out at a rate of 20% per year. By 2025 the hedgehog will no longer exist in England.

Or have you heard about the Sparrows? In the last 40 years sparrow numbers have declined in England by 97%. That is absolutely staggering. This means that they have been dying at a rate of one pair per minute.  Adults sparrows live on grains and seeds etc while baby sparrows need bugs and worms. Baby sparrows are dying because there are not enough bugs to feed them because the land is too sterile to support life as it was able to. The same thing has been noted in India where they have experienced a drop of 70-80% of the sparrow population.

And last but not least Lets talk about the bee population..Has anyone heard about the honey bee die off – called Colony collapse disorder? Since 2006 nth american migratory bee colonies have been dying off at phenomonal rates. Bee keepers have seen an annual 30 – 90% loss in their colonies. Non Migratory bee keepers have noted a 50% per year drop in numbers. The same has been seen across Canada, Europe, Asia, and central and south america.

So not only have we caused a real drama and massive health problems for ourselves by diddling with our food but the knock on effects are now being seen in other species, that are just as important as our own. We are not only endangering our own and our childrens health but also that of the ecological system that supports us. How does this spell impending doom for us? Well in the immortal words of the very famous and well regarded Albert Einstein – “ If all the bees disappeared of the face of the earth man would have no more than four years to live.” No Bees, No pollination. No pollination, no food. No food, no man. If that isn’t an ecological disaster of unequalled proportions I don’t know what is!

I want to leave you with this thought. We are able to change this, we can hopefully save the bees, the sparrows and the hedgehogs and ourselves into the bargain. We need to change how we choose our food. Grow your own, support a local farmer, lobby the government, support groups who are working for change and remember to Vote with your feet, your wallet and most importantly with your mouth.


Big Love




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