3RD CEC-Detroit Research Project 2012: Health, Social Justice and the Environment

Abstract

This assignment (paper) is designed to have you define health broadly, understand the role food plays in health, and analyze the larger systemic issues in a food system including how food is produced, how it is distributed and its role in health.

Assignment Requirements

Read the Executive Summary of  “Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging” at http://www.agehealthy.org/  and the Social Justice and Environmental Health paper:

Environmental Degradation and Social Injustice – Soc Sci Med  Titled: Causes and health consequences of environmental degradation and social injustice by Martin Donohoe

Prepare a three page paper that defines health from an environmental health perspective. (Do some on-line research to find a definition.) Then evaluate the environmental health issues of you, your family and your community. How could a local Detroit food system improve the health of you, your family and community?

This review is to be turned in on August 6th, 2012. This material should also be incorporate into the analysis of your final project.

Keywords: Health, natural, built and social environments

Human Health

Our personal health, as well as all other things in-kind (i.e., plants, animals including resources) and the overall wellbeing of all things considered within a community or system is always related to the same environmental health norms as dictated by the natural, built and social consequences of human stewardship.

Whether some folks like it or not there is a universal duty owed these things, always to maintain a balance between them for the sake of respect and the rights of all others to co-exist in the natural, built and social environments.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website found at   http://www.epa.gov/greenkit/health1.htm regarding human health, it states the following:

Environmental Health includes becoming aware of environmental risks and factors within your community and learning how to reduce your personal and your family’s exposure to these risks. Factors that may pose a risk to the environmental health of your community are lead, radon, indoor air quality, air quality, household hazardous wastes and ozone depletion. Identifying and becoming knowledgeable about these factors will help to protect your community. One beneficial source of information can be found at the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory-Community Right to Know Page. Action Plans for these risk factors are discussed in our Let’s Go Section (EPA, 2012).

An inventory of your community’s use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides may be challenging to achieve. However, communities are looking to less toxic, alternative ways to control pest and ‘green’ operations in their public, commercial and residential properties and buildings. By reducing the need for pesticides, herbicides and insecticides through natural landscaping/native vegetation for example, communities will reduce air and water pollution and reduce human exposure to these chemicals. Integrated pest management is an important strategy that will reduce the need for and use of pesticides in order to protect the environment and human health.

By working collaboratively with local/county government, schools, recreation facilities (golf courses, playing fields, public/private parks), local farmers, homeowners and businesses, an increased awareness of the practices, volume and disposal of these chemicals can lead to strategies that will increase worker/personal safety, reduce the use, volume and extent of toxic chemicals (EPA, 2012).

Moreover, I have great reservations and an even greater concern for our planet’s future health regarding the safety, health and welfare of many new generations yet to realize the divine blessings of life’s own experiences, or to have even walked upon the earth before its destroyed by corporate greed in search of more money, power and control.

I found something while researching this that I wanted to share because it bears repeating for the purposes of what needs said, repeatedly, until everyone understands.  The wellbeing and overall health within a community or system as related to the same environmental health norms as dictated by the natural, built and social consequences of human stewardship including without exception, corporate personhood and its stewardship of the environmental systems as well.

At the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth found at http://pwccc.wordpress.com/support/ in the Peoples Agreement states the following:

The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself.

Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are.

Capitalism requires a powerful military industry for its processes of accumulation and imposition of control over territories and natural resources, suppressing the resistance of the peoples. It is an imperialist system of colonization of the planet.

Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

It is imperative that we forge a new system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. And in order for there to be balance with nature, there must first be equity among human beings. We propose to the peoples of the world the recovery, revalorization, and strengthening of the knowledge, wisdom, and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, which are affirmed in the thought and practices of “Living Well,” recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship (Conference, 2012).

In conclusion, with respect to how a local Detroit food system could improve the health of everyone, our families and communities, I submit the following and fully support:

Michigan’s Right to Farm Act serves to protect farmers from harassment and to protect Michigan’s valuable farmland from sprawl and unnecessary development. One of the unintended consequences of this Act is if an urban area zones for agriculture, it would lose its ability to regulate and control what is done on that property. For example, if the City of Detroit allowed zoning for agriculture, and a neighbor had 20 chickens in their backyard, some might find the smell and noise as a nuisance and the animals and their waste as a health hazard. But under Michigan’s Right to Farm Act, the City could not regulate what is happening at that property.

I drafted a bill that would exempt Detroit from the Right to Farm Act and State Senator Joe Hune, who is a Republican, the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and a farmer, cosponsored my bill. Having a Republican cosponsor this bill is a major accomplishment and has drawn the attention of the powerful farming lobby in Michigan.

Before I introduced my bill which would allow Detroit to control agricultural development in the city, the Michigan Department of Agriculture asked me to wait so they could better explain what they are doing on this issue. On December 14, 2011 the Department will hold a meeting that will allow municipalities with a population of 50,000 or more the ability to regulate farming activity. I hope that this administrative fix will solve our problems and allow urban farming to legally sprout throughout our great cities in Michigan. I have agreed to wait on introducing my bill until after the Dec. 14th meeting to determine whether the administrative fix by the Department sufficiently allows municipalities to regulate urban farming (Smith, 2012).

Works Cited

Conference, W. P. (2012, August 1). Peoples Agreement. Retrieved from World People’s Conference on Climate Change: http://pwccc.wordpress.com/support/

EPA, U. (2012, August 1). Human Health. Retrieved from Green Communities : http://www.epa.gov/greenkit/health1.htm

Smith, V. (2012, August 1). Virgil Smith. Retrieved from Legislative Report: Urban Farming: http://www.virgilksmith.com/vks/blog/article/188

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