Saturday, April 16, 2011

The strategic economics of healthy food

At the recent FamilyFarmed Expo I heard a compelling presentation by Professor Ken Kaplan, Associate Director and Co-Founder, MIT Collaborative Initiatives.

Ken's professional beat includes architecture, planning, electronics, technology transfer and health care among many others.

Ken said the largest economic and development institutions in our American society, from the Fortune 100, to the Defense Department, to our national research institutions now recognize there is a yearly $300 billion to $400 billion unnecessary loss to our economic system due to health problems that are preventable by fixing the food system.

It was also interesting that Ken believes the money to fix the food system will come through the health care system. Major American institutions believe it is a national strategic imperative that we fix the food system as a way to create big economic development gains through better health care for our workforce.

Many thanks to Professor Kaplan for his great presentation!

In support of this approach there was a good article this week, 'How to Save a Trillion Dollars' by Mark Bittman in the NY Times.

"A big deal is saving a trillion bucks. And we could do that by preventing disease instead of treating it."

"… we showed that we could get people to eat anything we marketed. Now all we have to do is build a food distribution system that favors real food, and market that."

"Experts without vested interests in the status quo come to much the same conclusion: Only a massive public health effort can save both our health and our budget."

"The best way to combat diet-related diseases is to change what we eat. And if our thinking is along the lines of diet improved = deficit reduced, so much the better. If a better diet were to result only in a 10 percent decrease in heart disease (way lower than Ludwig believes possible), that’s $100 billion project savings per year by 2030.

This isn’t just fiscal responsibility, but social responsibility as well. And the alternative is not only fiscal catastrophe but millions of premature deaths."

Better food, better health, lower costs, smarter outcomes. Sounds like a plan.

Ken Kaplan, Associate Director and Co-Founder, MIT Collaborative Initiatives

How to Save a Trillion Dollars. By Mark Bittman. NY Times. April 12, 2011

Photo is from our Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

FamilyFarmed Expo, 2011.

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