To the Editor: The following is an open letter to Dr. Mark Levine, Commissioner of Health.
Dear Dr. Levine, Thank you for all your tireless efforts to navigate us through this difficult time. It is not an easy task. I would like to offer some of my concerns and thoughts.
I’ve observed over the past several years that everyone’s health, including young children, has been deteriorating. As a nation, Americans are probably the unhealthiest people of all the developed nations, despite the fact that we have excellent medical facilities and some of the finest physicians in the world. One in five Americans suffers from auto-immune diseases. Why is this?
Some of the answer may lie in the fact that access to medical care is not evenly distributed across the country. But I believe that part of the answer lies in the fact that we ingest foods that are contaminated with chemical fertilizers and preservatives, with high sugar content, and laced with antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticide residues. The conventional farming practices (using pesticides) and the industrialized food system in the United States is contributing to an overload of synthetic and toxic substances in our bodies. This results in weakening our immune systems, making us all prone to succumb to infections caused by pathogens (the bacteria and viruses that are always present). Studies show that pesticide-induced immune system disorders are a major health concern. There is evidence that the pesticides which contain glyphosate (such as Roundup), for example, not only destroy the good bacteria in the soil, but also in the human gut microbiome. And as you know, a well-balanced gut microbiome is responsible for a well-functioning immune system.
My question for you is: Instead of only recommending vaccinations and social distancing to protect us from viral infections like the flu and the current COVID 19 virus, why aren’t the Vermont Department of Health along with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, and the Vermont Agency of Human Services, requiring or mandating that all Vermont citizens are ensured easy access to wholesome, organic, and nutritious food? This is especially crucial for children. It is important to note that pesticide-treated food crops lose their nutritional value. Why isn’t there more emphasis on regenerative farming practices that eliminate the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers so that the crops are grown in healthy, fertile soil and consequently have the full nutrient value and don’t contain any pesticide residue?
If every child and adult in Vermont is informed about and encouraged or assisted to buy nutrition-dense, organic, unprocessed food, their immune systems would be stronger and more resilient to ward off viral inflammations and other illnesses. It’s a fact that bad food harms us, but good food can heal us. I support your efforts to enhance the health of our citizens, especially the health of our children.
Carol A. Berry,