Wednesday, December 19, 2007

David Wann's "Simple Prosperity"

David Wann is the author or coauthor of nine books including Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle (St. Martin’s Press, 2008) and the bestseller Affluenza (Berrett-Koehler, 2005).

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to Simple Prosperity and reported the following:
Page 99 of Simple Prosperity discusses a favorite topic of mine: food as joy, clarity, and vitality rather than just “fun.” A century ago, Americans spent more than a third of household income for food. But our new-millennium priorities and values have shifted; we now spend only 12% for food, more than half at restaurants and fast food bars rather than grocery stores. And the food itself has radically changed. In 1900, wheat was 90% protein, compared to only 9% today. Where did the lost nutrients go? Into the toast, down the drain, and into the ocean rather than back into the soil.

Americans may spend the least for food, but we also spend more on healthcare per capita than any other country in the world, with embarrassing results. We now rank 42nd among the world’s countries in longevity, just above Albania. And we are no longer the world’s tallest population, only its fattest. “Even wild monkeys have healthier diets than most Americans,” according to anthropologist Katharine Milton. In our money-mad world, the focus is on snackability, convenience and shelf life rather than human life.

Yet the benefits of real food are literally right in our faces. At Appleton High School for developmentally challenged students, administrators dramatically reduced vandalism, aggression, police surveillance, and littering by simply replacing pop machines with water coolers, and foods high in fats and sugar (like hamburgers, French fries and soft drinks) with fresh vegetables and fruits, whole-grain bread and a salad bar.

A professor at California State University orchestrated a similar change at eight hundred schools in low-income New York City neighborhoods. With better food in their bodies, the number of students passing final exams rose from 11 percent below the national average to five percent above.

Counsels journalist and nutrition scholar Michael Pollan, “Pay more, eat less. And don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Your life, and your sense of contentment, depend on it.
Learn more about Simple Prosperity at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue