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On food, hunger, and health.

March 26, 2012

Yesterday evening, UVM FeelGood held its first ever Community Banquet, an event which featured presenters Supriya Banavalikar from The Hunger Project and Corin Blanchard from FeelGood World, powerful conversation, and, of course, grilled cheese!

During her presentation, Corin touched on the meaning of hunger.  Both FeelGood and our partner organization The Hunger Project define hunger differently than I would imagine most people do.  We believe that hunger extends far beyond a lack of food: one can hunger for an education, a voice, happiness, dignity.  As a freshman, my hunger for optimism and to be a part of a welcoming community drew me to FeelGood; and the fact that FeelGood nourished those hungers is why, four years later, I am still a part of the movement.

Corin’s presentation got me thinking: this multidimensional view of hunger requires us to also expand our definition of health.  So often, I hear my friends and family members make comments to the effect of, “For X, Y, and Z reasons I am quite miserable…but at least I am in good health.”  They of course are speaking to their physical health.  I would argue though that if someone is miserable they are not in good health at all, even if their internal organs and musculoskeletal system function just fine!

This argument expands the definition to include mental and emotional health.  To be truly and 100% healthy requires fulfillment in every way imaginable.  Of course, it is inconceivable to live in this idealistic, wholly healthy state all the time–health fluctuates–but doesn’t everyone deserve for that to be the general trend of their health status?  And why isn’t that possible?

The physical, mental, emotional health definition is fine and dandy but it is still pretty standard…and it is still, in my opinion, insufficient.  All of these aspects of our health are interconnected.  And on top of that, the health of everyone on this planet and the health of the environment are interconnected.  Yes, a certain degree of my health is dependent on your health!  I cannot say that I am healthy, or without hunger, if you cannot say the same.

Earlier I said that we can hunger for more than just food.  On the flip side, because of the interconnected nature of our health, food can impact more than just our physical health; food can both positively and negatively impact our mental and emotional health, and that of those around us.

Yes FeelGood is “ending hunger one grilled cheese at a time.”  But we are also working to improve every aspect of the health of both ourselves and our brothers and sisters around the world.

FN 3/26

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Teresa Mares permalink
    March 27, 2012 12:42 pm

    This is a really really interesting post, and something that I have thought a lot about as an anthropologist who works on questions of food and wellbeing. I totally agree that we need to stretch our understanding of health to include the spiritual, mental, emotional aspects of our selves.

  2. Teresa Mares permalink
    March 27, 2012 12:43 pm

    And here’s a reading you might find interesting (couldn’t resist!)

    Ristovski-Slijeocevic, Svetlana, Gwen E. Chapman, and Brenda L. Beagan
    2008 Engaging with Health Eating Discourse(s): Ways of Knowing About Food and Health in Three Ethnocultural Groups in Canada. Appetite 50: 127-178.


  1. FeelGood Community Banquet 2012 | UVM FeelGood Blog
  2. A reflection. « Cheddar and Change

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