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Episode 94
The Doctor's Farmacy

How Our Food System Harms Humans and the Planet

Open the Podcasts app and search for The Doctor’s Farmacy. If you’re viewing this site on your phone, you can just tap on the

Tap the subscribe button and new shows will be added to your library.

If you’re using a different device, our show is available on the following platforms.

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The way we grow food now is destroying our ability to grow it in the future. And the way we’re growing it now is making us sicker and more broke than ever before. 

Food is our #1 killer, even more so than smoking and guns.

Our government supports the over-production of the top crops for processed foods—corn, soy, and wheat—and Big Food reaps the benefits by turning them into sugary, starchy, highly addictive foods that cause chronic diseases. Diseases that are killing us and could be prevented.

This all comes down to our food system. The way food is grown, transported, processed, consumed, and wasted in our country is contributing to these problems and so much more—especially some of our most urgent ones like climate change. 

That’s why I wrote my new book Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet—One Bite at a Time. And today on The Doctor’s Farmacy I’m excited to trade places and be the interviewee with my good friend, business partner, and host of The Broken Brain Podcast, Dhru Purohit to talk about this recent passion project.

When I got very sick decades ago, I took on the mission to use Functional Medicine to help myself and my patients get over needless suffering. There are so many things we can do to prevent unnecessary health struggles and related deaths, and food is one of the most powerful.

Food is also connected to everything. End to end, the food system accounts for half of all climate change. I was stunned to learn that too. The amount of carbon, heat, and greenhouse gases emitted every day is equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs going off, every day. It’s no wonder the future of food is at stake when you think about how dramatically this impacts our growing climates and extreme weather events like floods, droughts, and fires. 

And even if you aren’t concerned about the climate or environment, this is something that impacts the future for all of us. This is a national security issue everyone in America should be concerned about.

Take the economy for example—by 2048 it’s estimated that there will be no money left for anything except chronic disease. Not education, defense, roads—all our federal funds would be needed for the associated medical costs of chronic disease. This can be traced back to our promotion and accessibility of refined, high-sugar, high-starch foods. And it’s something we can change. 

Dhru and I talk about these issues and so much more on this episode. I hope you’ll tune in to hear about my new book Food Fix and why it’s the most meaningful project I’ve ever worked on. 

Visit foodfixbook.com for more information about my new book, Food Fix, and for bonus material including the Food Fix Action Guide and my Longevity Masterclass.

This episode is brought to you by Thrive Market. Thrive Market has made it so easy for me to stay healthy, even with my intense travel schedule. Not only does Thrive offer 25 to 50% off all of my favorite brands, but they also give back. For every membership purchased, they give a membership to a family in need, and they make it easy to find the right membership for you and your family. You can choose from 1-month, 3-month, or 12-month plans. And right now, Thrive is offering all Doctor’s Farmacy listeners a great deal, you’ll get up to $20 in shopping credit when you sign up, to spend on all your own favorite natural food, body, and household items. And any time you spend more than $49 you’ll get free carbon-neutral shipping. All you have to do is head over to thrivemarket.com/Hyman.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

In this episode, you will learn (video / audio):

  1. When I realized I had to get out of the doctor’s office to get my patients healthy
    (5:46 / 11:12)
  2. Who is most affected by our food system?
    (8:40 / 14:06)
  3. The lack of nutrition guidelines in our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP), or food stamps
    (17:55 / 23:21)
  4. How the way we grow food is destroying our ability to grow food in the future
    (25:28 / 30:54)
  5. The connection between our food system and climate change, as both a cause and a solution
    (29:55 / 35:21)
  6. The solution to food waste
    (42:27 / 47:53)
  7. Why your participation is needed to bring about global food policy shifts
    (47:23 / 52:49)
  8. How my early life experiences and education led to my advocacy energy and interest in social justice and spirituality
    (52:52 / 58:18)
  9. The biggest threat to global economic development
    (1:02:46 / 1:08:12)
  10. How starting at the seed level solves all of our global crises
    (1:06:43 / 1:12:09)

Guest

 
Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, MD is the Founder and Director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Functional Medicine, and a 13-time New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

 
Dhru Purohit

Dhru is the host of the Broken Brain Podcast, a top 20 health podcast with over 6 million downloads, that teaches listeners how to improve their brain performance and mental health through their diet, lifestyle and everyday biohacking. As an entrepreneur, Dhru is also the CEO Dr. Hyman Enterprises, Farmacy and the UltraWellness Center, a functional medicine based clinic that specializes in treating chronic disease through personalized medicine.

Transcript

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The very way we are growing food is destroying our ability to grow food in the future. Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m Dr. Mark Hyman and it’s Farmacy with an F F-A-R-M-A-C-Y a place for conversations that matter. And today’s conversation really matters to all of us. And it matters to me a lot. And our special guest today you’re going to love. It’s me. This is my most vulnerable podcast. Yes, talking about some of the most important issues that I care about today that I think matter to all of us. So in order to actually interview me I’m asking my CEO and partner Dhru Purohit who’s an amazing man has his own Broken Brain podcast, which is super popular to interview me about me and my new book.

Dhru Purohit:
Mark, welcome to your podcast.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s an honor to be here and like Mark said we’re turning the tables. We’re putting mark in the interview seeds so we can talk about how he lives, what he eats, what supplements he takes. We’ll also get the inside scoop on his new book Food Fix and cover some of your most pressing questions. For everybody listening, this podcast is going to be in two parts. This is part one we’re going to break it up into because it’s so long. Stay tuned for part two and make sure you listen to that. Now, a little bit about our guest, the man the myth, the legend, Dr. Mark Hyman.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, no.

Dhru Purohit:
Dr. Mark Hyman is a practicing family physician and internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, do the short one.

Dhru Purohit:
… in the field of functional medicine. He’s written a bunch of books, 12 New York Times bestsellers.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Host of The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Dhru Purohit:
Host of The Doctor’s Farmacy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Work on policy…

Dhru Purohit:
At the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for functional Medicine. And most importantly, when people ask me, “Dhru, you’re close with Mark, he’s your business partner, he’s your friend. Who is he really?” I said, well, first of all, I know the question that they’re asking, which is does he practice what he preaches? And he does?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, we’re going to yoga after this.

Dhru Purohit:
We’re going to yoga after this. He eats the way that he describes. And most importantly, I tell them that he-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
With an occasional tequila.

Dhru Purohit:
With an occasional tequila because hey, life is about balance.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s less occasional now I mean less because I just don’t want it as much.

Dhru Purohit:
Yes. But most importantly, he is grateful. That’s how I always think about you Mark, you always have a lot of gratitude to share with not only me, but the team, the people that are in your lives, your family, the partners that you are working with to change the food system and change the world. And I want to acknowledge you for that, because it’s your show.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thank you.

Dhru Purohit:
And I want to say that we see you we see how you show up in the world. And if I can speak on behalf of the listeners of this podcast, thank you for everything you’ve done over the last 60 years-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, yeah, geez. Thanks for bringing that up.

Dhru Purohit:
… in changing the food system, in helping us with our health. And thank you for putting out so much content for free. We really appreciate you.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, the truth is that when I got very sick almost 30 years ago, and discovered this new way of thinking about healing and the body, functional medicine, and use it to heal myself and my patients. I just became on a mission to share this because there’s so much needless suffering in the world. And I realized my mission is to help end that needless suffering. And there’s some things we can’t do anything about, natural disasters, war, bad stuff happens, but there’s stuff we can do something about. And I don’t think people need to suffer the way they do from chronic illness and from some of the things that are caused by the food we eat and the food system, which is why I’m excited to talk about it today.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s so true and natural disasters, terrorism, these things that gets so much attention and they’re horrific, and they’re bad. They are a small factor of what really ails us and actually contributes to death on a daily basis. The number one thing that’s killing us is actually our food.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, not smoking, not guns, not accidents, not war. It’s food. It’s the number one killer, 11 million people. I think that’s a conservative number based on a study called the Global Burden of Disease Study. 195 countries found that 11 million people die every year from eating too much ultra processed food. And I’ll define that in a minute. And not enough good food, whole foods, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, real food. And that’s striking to me because if there was a virus like Ebola, or Zika or something that killing 11 million people, or AIDS which affected a fraction of that. We would be all over it as a global community, scientists, politicians, business innovators, pharmacy companies, everybody been working on solving the problem. And yet, this is an invisible problem.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
95% of the world’s global resources for disease are spent on infectious disease in terms of NGOs, governments, and so forth. The Gates Foundation for example, malaria, TB, AIDS, important issues to solve, but they’re only a fraction of the deaths now on the planet. They’re may be a third of the deaths compared to two thirds that come from chronic disease caused by food. And yeah, we don’t really have a global effort to solve this.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah, the fact that you say that, we used to be dying primarily because we didn’t have enough food and there are still people in the world that are dying or in a really bad state of health because they don’t have access and that’s a very sad situation. But the vast majority now, in fact, more people are dying from something else. That’s something else is obesity, chronic disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, there’s 2.1. 2.3 million, depending how you slice it, people who are overweight on the planet, and 800 million or so who are hungry, and there’s far more than enough calories to feed everybody. It’s just a distribution problem. Obesity is actually a climate problem because we’re having to grow so much food to feed so many calories to people that it actually is contributing to climate change.

Dhru Purohit:
So I want to take a pause because I shared on the podcast earlier, many listeners of your podcast don’t know that you recently turned 60.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Oh, yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
And 60 is a milestone year. You have plenty of life left. You look great for 60, everybody who follows you Instagram, you’re out there working out doing your thing.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Doing my ropes.

Dhru Purohit:
Doing your ropes at the gym. And 60 is definitely a year where people reflect back and they really ask themselves, what am I really standing for? What’s the legacy that I want to live in the next part of my life and what I want to do? And I’ve seen an incredible shift. And I saw this happen about end of two years ago, as you’re starting to prepare for this and where you are in your career, that the topic was shifting. It wasn’t just about how to get the individual healthy, it was about how to get the society healthy. When did that shift for you?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I was thinking back in our blood sugar solution when I talked about the toxic triad of Big food, Big pharma, and Big AG. So I was always thinking about these issues, but it was sort of a sideline and then I began to really think about look, I’m sitting in my office every day seeing patients who are sick from the food they eat. Not everybody, but most of the time, as long as it’s environmental toxins and viruses and Lyme disease. But most of the time, it’s food. And then I begin to think about as a functional medicine doctor, what’s the cause? I always ask why, why? Why? Why? So why are they sick? It’s the food. Why do we have the food? It’s the food system. Why do we have the food system? It’s our food policies.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Why do we have food policies? Because we have a $15 trillion food industry and AG industry that is influencing the political process and driving the policies that are counterproductive to public health, to the economy, to the climate, to the environment, to social justice, to national security, to academic achievement. All these things are undermined by our policies, which is crazy, because the government’s supposed to create policies that help support citizens instead of corporations. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it is today. And the reason I decided to focus on this so much is because I realized in order to solve my patients’ problems, I couldn’t do it in the doctor’s office. I couldn’t do it in the hospital or the clinic. I had to do it at the root cause which is in the kitchen, in the grocery store, on the farm at the seed level all the way through the food chain I had to think about that.

Dhru Purohit:
So take this more personal, you spend part of your time at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes.

Dhru Purohit:
And the local population around that area is much more diverse than your home state of Massachusetts, where you live.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Which is all white.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s much more diverse. And you have a lot of people that are coming from all sorts of different economic backgrounds. Give us a personal anecdote or story about trying to work with people’s health over there and doing your best and how you sort of made that connection that we need to go even bigger than just working with the individuals on the ground as you were.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I mean there’s a lot of components to that question. I think that it’s really true is that the people who are most affected by our food system are the poor, and minorities, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, are disproportionately affected by chronic disease caused by food. They call these health disparities or health inequities. And even people who are white and are not thriving economically also struggle, because they live in areas where there’s not access to healthy food, or they don’t have the education and knowledge about this. I was sort of shocked about my own prejudice when I went to South Carolina to work on the movie Fed up, which came out I think 2014 about the way in which the food industry causes obesity through the promotion of sugar and processed foods.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And there was this white family in Easley South Carolina that lived in one of the worst food deserts in America and they were severely overweight. Their father was diabetic, on dialysis already at 42. The mother was massively overweight, the son was 15, 16 and almost diabetic, very, very overweight. And they were all desperate to get healthy. But they did not know what to do. And I think I had a prejudice that all people kind of know they shouldn’t drink soda, and they know they should not eat too much sugar and starch. I think they just sort of live in a bubble and I was like shocked that they were desperate to get healthy because the father had to lose 45 pounds to get a kidney which he couldn’t get if he didn’t lose the weight. And they didn’t know what to do and they were crying about it and I’m like, “Look, here’s how you cook a simple meal. Here’s some real ingredients.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Everything in their kitchen was processed, packaged, frozen, deep fried. I mean, they didn’t know what to do and they were trying to do the right thing they had low fat salad dressing.

Dhru Purohit:
In fact, you say they thought they were being helpful.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They thought they were being helpful. I’m cool if it said zero trans fats. It’s a healthy dessert topping. It’s not it’s all trans fat and sugar and high fructose corn syrup. So it was really shocking to me and I gave him a simple guide from the Environmental Working Group how to good food on a tight budget, I gave him my cookbook, I said you can do this. I sent him a cutting board and knives because they didn’t have knives I had to cut onions and sweet potatoes with a butter knife it was terrible. And I taught them some simple skills of chopping, cutting, dicing, [inaudible 00:10:53], baking, roasting, just simple things and basically one meal, they did it. They lost 200 pounds in a year.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The mother lost 100 pounds, his father lost 45 and got a new kidney. The son lost 50. But he gained it back because he went to work at Bojangles, which you said was like putting a alcoholic to work in a bar. And then eventually got his act together. He lost 138 pounds and applied to medical school, he asked me for a letter of recommendation, and I wrote him a letter. And I said you can do this and we’re still in touch and he’s doing amazing. So I realized in Cleveland, where you’ve got really underserved populations there’s just a lack of education, there’s a lack of access and support. And I went to this place called I think it’s Cuyahoga County Community College, and they had a whole education program for cooking, and chefs. And they were trying to help people rise up out of poverty, and most of the students were African American.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And I sat in a group with them and asked them about their families and their lives. One was almost homeless with their family. Another one had multiple relatives with amputations because of diabetes. One of the mothers wanted to give her kids better food and wanted to give them vegetables. But she had to take two buses, round trip, like four buses basically, round trip two hours just to buy some vegetables for her family. And in the town, there’s little Debbie’s, which is like a kind of crappy cake, like hostess cupcake things and processed food.

Dhru Purohit:
Dollar store.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Dollar store. I mean, it’s terrible. And some of the neighborhoods it’s rough. I mean, I didn’t even remember McDonald’s that’s like an upscale restaurant in some of these neighborhoods. They have Rally’s which I never heard of. And it’s so cheap and so disgusting. Who knows what’s in there? We went up to a Rally’s, and you’re not allowed to go in because it’s so dangerous. In order to buy your burger, you have to have this window with bulletproof glass and they slip it under like a bank with the teller. And that’s how you get your burger. It’s pretty frightening. And [inaudible 00:12:54] who’s a pastor of an incredible church in Baltimore said, “We’re losing more people to sweets than the streets,” that it’s really devastating these communities.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And we’re working with incredible programs there in Cleveland Clinic. We worked in the community center near Cleveland. Right around Cleveland Clinic is a really rough, underserved neighborhood. We had all these people coming, we sold out, we were going to do a community group and we were going to teach them about nutrition and provide some education about food and support. And they all were overweight had high blood pressure, chronic diseases. And this woman who even had a stroke and she was struggling. And after the 10 week program, she was talking was able to move her hand do all kinds of stuff that she wasn’t able to do and they were so grateful their blood pressure got better their weight drop, their blood sugar’s improved. They were so into it. I mean, they were the best group we ever had. So people are not trying not to be well. It’s just the way our whole system is set up to undermine everybody’s health.

Dhru Purohit:
So for the skeptical person who’s listening and saying, “Look, that’s great. And I want people to be healthy, but that’s their problem.” So for the skeptical person that’s listening and saying, “Okay, look, it’s a tragedy. There’s a lot of tragedy in the world. But also too how does that affect me?” So how does the health of others in our society also have impact on us all?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Two good questions. One is, is it just their fault? And I think it’s easy to say that, and that people should just have personal responsibility. But when you are living in a toxic nutritional landscape, and you have no access to food, and you have no education about what’s healthy to eat, and the schools serve kids that are making food that are making kids sick and fat. When you have barely any money to buy food, because you’re on snap or food assistance. And if you’re in a really struggling environment, it’s more than about personal responsibility. Yes, we all have to have some level of personal responsibility, but unless you know what to do, and have the access to do it and the resource to do it, it’s not so easy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And it is affecting all of us Dhru. I mean, when you look at the amount of economic burden of chronic disease, we talked a little earlier, but six out of 10 Americans have a chronic disease. Four have two or more. And by 2030, which is 10 years, 83 million Americans are going to have three and more chronic diseases, and it’s bankrupting our country. In six years by 2026, there will be no money in the Medicare trust fund. And what that means is, we’re screwed. It means we don’t have any backup money to pay for the overhead and Medicare, we have to pay for it out of our current revenue and it’s a trillion dollar a year budget for Medicare.

Dhru Purohit:
Crazy.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s one third of our total tax revenue. And it’s growing and growing and by 2048 it’s going to be 100% of government mandatory spending by 2048.

Dhru Purohit:
Just for those who listen. Can you say that one more? It’s hard to understand the magnitude of that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, so just get this, by 2048 according to current trends and estimates by the government, there will be no money left for anything except chronic disease. It will only be money for that no money for roads, education, transportation, defense, nothing.

Dhru Purohit:
That’s how expensive it’s going to become if we don’t wake up as a society and do something. And for those that are listening that are saying, “Well, that’s because the US doesn’t have universal health care and other things,” countries like England are also dealing with this, Canada are also projecting out that even though they have universal health care, because the chronic disease burden is so intense, they are not going to have enough money to fund it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it makes me nuts when I hear the political debate, “Medicare for all, restrict entitlements, repeal Obamacare or Medicare for All.” That’s the wrong set of questions. It should be is there a third path that solves the reason why it’s so expensive in the first place, which is making people healthy and fixing the food system.

Dhru Purohit:
And really just because you mentioned politics, whether you’re independent, republican democrat, this is something that you can get behind, and I know you’re doing a lot of work in that. We’ll talk about that later on.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. All my best friends are on both sides of the aisle.

Dhru Purohit:
You can get behind it because it’s actually getting to the root cause, because you’re going upstream. Now, you mentioned something important. You said, it’s not just a personal responsibility conversation, we have to actually set up the right system. And part of the way the system is designed right now is to actually encourage some of these unhealthy behaviors. Let’s talk about, for instance, the SNAP program commonly referred to as food stamps. How is it designed to encourage people to eat unhealthy?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, well, first of all, most government food programs, which are administered under the US Department of Agriculture, have some semblance of nutrition guidelines. The women’s infant and children program or WIC, school lunches. Although recently Trump rolled back some of the changes under the healthy hunger free Kids Act that Obama put in to improve school lunch quality, but there’s guidelines about you can’t just serve people candy all day. In SNAP or food stamp program there are no guidelines. Now it was designed to help relieve hunger, and it was very effective at that. It’s 46 million Americans. And by the way, one in four kids is on food stamps. That should wake us up if one of our four kids in America is food insecure, pretty frightening.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
There are 100 million Americans who were either below the poverty line, or barely scratching the surface, above the poverty line, 100 million Americans. I was walking down the street today in Los Angeles, and it just broke my heart. I was walking down in Venice, California, which is sort of a hipster town and very wealthy, and there’s just like 10 rows of homeless people on the sidewalk. And I’m just like, “Why in America?” We’re the richest country in the world. And we just don’t care for each other. It’s kind of crazy. So we have enormous issues with the ways in which we distribute money, but the food stamp program has no nutrition guidelines. It’s the biggest food program, it’s one of the biggest programs in the government. So it’s of the $1 trillion, almost $1 trillion USDA Farm Bill, which should be called the food bill because it’s mostly about food, three quarters that is for food stamps.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
75 billion a year, three quarters of that is junk food. 10% of it, or seven billion a year is soda. That’s 31 billion eight ounce servings of soda to the poor every year that the government pays for, and we’re paying it four times. How are we paying four times? One, we pay for subsidies and supports for corn, which damages the environment, the climate, uses up our water resources and destroys the soil.

Dhru Purohit:
And its one of the main ingredients in soda, high fructose corn syrup.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
High fructose corn syrup. It causes damage to biodiversity, loss of pollinator species, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, destroys our waterways. I mean all those costs.

Dhru Purohit:
Top soil.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And who’s paying for that? Second, we pay not only for the subsidies and the damage, we pay for the food to be purchased through the SNAP program. I mean, the number one source of US revenue for Coca Cola is food stamps. 20% of Walmart’s budget, of the 730 whatever $80 billion of changes depending on the farm bill of food stamps, about 130 something billion goes to Walmart alone. And so we’re seeing these massive challenges so we’re paying for all that. And then we’re paying for the chronic disease on the back end the diabetes and heart disease. So we pay for the subsidies for the corn, we pay for the damage on the environment, we pay for the food stamps, we pay for the medicare medicaid. So who’s paying for this? We are paying for it because of our misguided food policies.

Dhru Purohit:
We as taxpayers are taking on the burden because the food system which is often encouraged by the government, lobbyists, not all lobbyists are bad there’s some lobbyists that are good out there trying to advocate for good things.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I want to be one. I’m going to be a lobbyist for the good guys.

Dhru Purohit:
Yes. Because the system was designed that way, it was almost like a de facto plan because nobody really thought about designing it intentionally for health. It was designed for disease.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And listen, the truth is that the food companies, the government policies, a lot of these were put in place decades and decades ago, when there was massive hunger when there was a shortage of calories. And so the policies were really good after the depression and the war, of having an agricultural system that produced an abundance of starchy calories, but not a lot of nutrients, with devastating harm to the environment that we didn’t really even understand. Rachel Carson called out in the early 60s with her book Silent Spring, the dangers of DDT and pesticides. And now, we’re waking up to the fact that the way we grow food, our agricultural system and the rest of the food system is the number one cause of climate change.

Dhru Purohit:
So let’s shift to that topic climate change because I want to start off with this. You have people across the political spectrum-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Wait, wait, before we do that, because I want to go back to the SNAP ting.

Dhru Purohit:
You’re interrupting me interrupting when you’re on podcast.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, because I want to talk about the SNAP thing.

Dhru Purohit:
Okay, let’s talk it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So the book food fix is really about how do we solve these problems? And there’s a lot of great ideas about how to do this and people are supportive of it. And all we need to do is put the end back and SNAP, nutrition, we need to have nutrition guidelines. Why should the government feel like it has to support the use of soda? Well, we don’t want to stigmatize the poor, we don’t want to be regressive. We actually need to give them choice all that is fair, but not to the detriment of them. They’re not going to be the ones most helped by this.

Dhru Purohit:
Incredible. We’re going to talk back on solution.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Sorry, I get excited about this.

Dhru Purohit:
I can tell you’re passionate about it. And being close to being your business partner, being your friend. I can see when you get worked up, and I love it. And our audience loves it. Okay, I want to shift for a second. Besides how food is wreaking havoc on our health, it’s also wreaking havoc on the environment.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
But I want to address something head on. You have people across all the political spectrum, even people who don’t necessarily care about politics who listen to you. This year, meaning the last 12 months, as I’ve seen you speak more about climate change in food, which is a very nuanced topic, and we going to go through all these nuances. I’ve never seen you get more hateful messages from people who feel like, either climate change isn’t real-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Stay in my lane. Stay in my lane.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s everything from like, climate change isn’t real, but they trust you on a lot of other topics, but they don’t believe in climate change. Then there’s other people who are vegan who are like, “Yay, Dr. Hyman, wait, he’s saying that meat and being plant based and being vegan isn’t always the right solution for climate change?” So I’ve never seen you get more hate messages across the board. You’re making a lot of friends out there.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
That’s good.

Dhru Purohit:
So let’s start off with the first one. This sounds pretty basic, but I know your audience and I see that audience interact with you all the time. Let’s start off with the basics of climate change. It sounds funny to ask you, but some people genuinely feel like climate change is not real. And I think that they need to hear from you that if they trust you-

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s just bad weather.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah, that it’s just bad weather. We’re just going through a cycle, the cycle changes. There’s a lot of things that are out there, our own president, currently right now has his skepticism around climate change. What do you want to say about that?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, there’s two issues. A lot of people believe that there’s changes in our climate, but that it probably isn’t man made, that it’s a natural part of a cycle. So I don’t think there’s too many people out there that can ignore the fact that we’re seeing, I think, this year, 2019 was the second hottest year on record in human history. And the last was 2016. The last time there was this much carbon in the atmosphere, which is a scientific fact for 415 billion parts per billion, was 800,000 years ago. There were no humans. They were hippos swimming in the Thames River. The oceans were much higher, and there were palm trees growing in the South Pole. So we are facing undeniable consequences. All the fires, for example we’re seeing around the world, Australia was the most recent, California has been devastated by fires worse than they’ve had in recorded history.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
The floods in the Midwest last year, destroyed a million acres of cropland. So the very way we are growing food is destroying our ability to grow food in the future. Think about it for a minute. So the ways in which we’re destroying the soil, the way in which that contributes to climate change, actually leads to our inability to grow food in the future. According to the UN, we have 60 harvests left meaning in 60 harvests there’ll be no soil, no food, no humans, this is an existential threat to humanity. I don’t care if you believe in climate change or not, there’s no deniability that we are destroying our soil.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah, that’s there and everybody sees it, we’re going to come back to the soil because I don’t know if everybody understands that. I think we got to break that down.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, we could dirt.

Dhru Purohit:
But even if you don’t believe in climate change, and it’s better to have an honest conversation with people directly, and for those of you that are like, “Oh my gosh, who could not believe in climate change, all the data is out there.” Listen, we know the polls, we know the stats, there are people listening this podcast who don’t believe in it, you can see that we’re polluting our Earth. So even if all the same things that go to fix climate change, clean up our Earth, so if you want to maintain your belief that climate change isn’t happening, the same solutions that go to fix it are going to clean up our lands, our waters, our ocean are going to prevent coral bleaching and are going to make us healthier.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, that’s so true Dhru. The truth is that the beauty of this book Food Fix is that if you fix the food system, it fixes everything.

Dhru Purohit:
Yes.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It gets people healthy. It increases by diversity of animal plant insect species, it increases soil. It protects our freshwater resources. It helps improve kids academic performance and the way the food impacts their brain. It improves national security because we are actually able to have kids who can get in the military right now 70% have rejected. It protects us from political instability. I mean, there is estimated going to be 200 million to a billion refugees from weather or climate or whatever you’re talking about it within the next 30 to 40 years. I mean, we had a million from Syria that was devastating and created global consequences. But I can’t even imagine what a billion refugees looks like,

Dhru Purohit:
And it’s in our future if we don’t change it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
… and how that threatens our political stability and safety as a nation. So forget about if you care about other people in other part of the world, forget about if you care about climate change, you should care about the safety and political stability of our nation because that is something we all depend on. So the beautiful thing about the Food Fix is that the solutions are there to fix everything along the way. And it’s not that hard if we collectively joined to do that.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah. And its first getting educated on the magnitude of the problem. I compare it to like, an inconvenient truth. When people saw Al Gore talk about it, even though the data was out there, even though the science was out there and had been out there for years, nobody had wrapped it up into a story that people could understand. And I see you doing that in your new book Food Fix.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
So one of the ones that I feel like it’s hard for people to understand I’d love you to unpack it is when you say we only have 60 harvests left. What does that mean and why?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Okay, before I get to that, just to finish up on what is the climate… People don’t understand what 415 parts per billion, it doesn’t make sense.

Dhru Purohit:
You’re talking about carbon in the atmosphere?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. The amount of carbon and heat, greenhouse gases emitted all of it every day is equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs going off every day. That’s about four to five every second. Imagine that going on day after day, year after year, and what that’s doing to our climate? And you can talk about whether you believe it or not, but there’s scientific facts that are hard to deny. And all if you do is look at the news, look at the weather, look at what’s happening with storms. I mean, there was a hurricane in Scotland, the hurricane tracking software didn’t go up that high. So they couldn’t track it because it was like, it never happened before. We lost three trillion tons, 3 trillion tons of ice from Antarctica. I mean, that’s staggering. The oceans are going up. I mean, there’s octopus in parking lots in Miami. It’s hard to deny that.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s hard to deny that and it sometimes feels like the problems are so big, that the average person that’s listening is like, “Okay, if you want me to feel depressed, I feel depressed. I’m going to buy your book, but I’m still depressed. And like, What do we do?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, here’s the good news. The UN recently came out with a report. We’re talking about soil now. So you asked about soil, so they said that if we restore degraded soils, there’s five million hectares, which is far more than an acre of degraded soil around the world. If we restore just two million of those five million degraded acres, I mean hectares we would be able to stall climate change by 20 years. In other words, decrease the amount of carbon environment enough so that it would give us 20 more years to come up with solutions, technologies advances to fix the problem, and it would cost only $300 billion, which sounds a lot for the average guy. It’s more than Jeff Bezos has but only three times as much. And that money is the amount of money that the global economy spends on military spending in three months.

Dhru Purohit:
And it’s a proven methodology to get there. It’s in the book Draw Down I think its like in the top 11. One of the items that’s there that can help us reverse climate change.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Absolutely. That was shock to me I’m like, I had no fricking idea that food played a role in climate change. None. I was like, I know factory farming of animals okay, that’s greenhouse gas emissions but the rest of it I had no clue. And if you took end to end the food system, how we grow food, deforestation, soil erosion, the processing of food, transportation, refrigeration, food waste all of it end to end, it’s half of all climate change more than fossil fuels, which is about a third. And in the science of why that’s happening is that we have lost a third of all of our soils since the Industrial Revolution, which is staggering. And it’s contributed about 30 to 40% of all the carbon and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere right now.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So the cause of much of the heating up in the atmosphere and climate change is the loss of soil 30 to 40%, which is staggering, which is great news, because it means we can fix it. I mean, we can use the most advanced carbon capture technology ever discovered, which has been around for billions of years, that is free, available everywhere on the planet. That is called photosynthesis, which is basically the process by which plants make energy. They breathe carbon dioxide we breathe oxygen. They basically get sunlight and the energy from the sun and they combine that to make the carbohydrates in plants. Carbo carbon. That’s why they call it carbohydrates because its carbon and all plant matter is made of carbohydrates, of carbon.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And so we have this unutilized technology which is available everywhere to actually draw down carbon out of the atmosphere into the plants. It basically breathes it in, it goes into the roots. It gets fed to microbes, it gets fed to microbes ad a fangae. And it creates this incredibly rich soil which is full of life that basically holds huge amounts of carbon, it’s estimated that the soil can hold three times the amount of carbon, which is about a trillion tons of carbon that’s in the atmosphere right now. It can hold three times that amount of carbon in the soil. So we’re not using it and we’re degrading it and we’re turning basically an area the size of North Korea or Nicaragua into desert every year by the way we farm. And as well as we do have, we’re screwing them up so they don’t work they turn to dirt, which you can’t really grow stuff in dirt unless you use tons of fertilizer, and pesticides and herbicides, which further destroy the soil.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the fertilizer is another story I want to get into a minute, but the soil has this amazing capacity to suck out carbon from the atmosphere. It’s like the rain forests of the prairies. It’s phenomenal what it can do. And that’s why the UN, it’s not my opinion. I’m not the expert in this. I’m just talking to farmers. I’m talking to UN scientists, I’m reading the literature and I’m like, wait a minute, this is an incredible solution. And if the UN is saying, “This is the solution that available right now, we don’t need any more technology, we don’t need any more innovation. It’s free and we can do it everywhere.”

Dhru Purohit:
And so connected dots because the people who are listening are like, “I’m not a farmer, how can I participate in that? What behaviors can I do that encouraged that and can encourage the regrowth of that topsoil that’s out there to start pulling this carbon in?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, in the last year, I mean, I’ve been doing this for a while and I’ve heard of regenerative AG but in the last year, it’s like the buzzword. And I think there are now places where you can buy regeneratively grown food and a lot of times its maybe not called that. For example, if you go to your local farmers market, a lot of local farmers are growing in sustainable ways that restore soil, that use ecosystem service practices to help actually preserve and make new soil to help restore water, they do not use chemicals. So there’s different grades, organic is one certification but we’re talking about now a regenerative organic certification which goes one step further, which means that the farming uses practices that help to restore soil. We’ll go through that in a minute.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
People can buy them for example on Thrive Market, they can get regeneratively raised beef. They can go to Mariposa Ranch online, there’s a lot of online resources where you can buy regeneratively grown food.

Dhru Purohit:
And nonprofits like Kiss the Ground and other people that kind of direct individuals to resources that are available.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, we need a huge movement to fund it and develop it. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We need the government to fund the transition for farmers to get into regenerative ag. And I’ll tell you a quick story about a farmer because they’re, “Oh, it’s elitist. Oh, it’s only for rich people.” But it turns out that’s not true. And people say, “Oh, we can’t be scaling. This is too difficult. We don’t have land.” Gabe Brown was a North Dakota farmer who had his farm destroyed by hail and bad weather, 5000 acre farm in North Dakota, family farm for decades. And he was about to close shop, he was about to go bankrupt. And he started reading about this regenerative ag, and started practicing and it turned out he built 29 inches of soil on his land. He grows more food, a better quality food with no inputs, like no pesticides, fertilizers, he makes his own fertilizer from his nitrogen fixing plants and from the poop and pee of the animals running around his farm.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s a complex farm which is highly resilient to drought to bad weather. The worst and most unstable ecosystem is lack of diversity, a mono crop corner soy field. But he has a diverse ecosystem. Rain forests is very stable if one plant dies who cares. Same thing with a regenerative farm and he makes more food, better food, uses less inputs. Those 29 inches of soil is resistant to droughts and floods. And he said he makes 20 times the profit that his neighbors do next door in North Dakota.

Dhru Purohit:
Incredible.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So it’s good for him. It’s good for the land. It’s good for the animals. It’s good for the climate, and it’s good for his pocketbook. That’s a win, win, win because most farmers in this country make minus 1,600 dollars a year.

Dhru Purohit:
In fact, this year because of the tariffs and a few other things, we’ve seen one of the highest rates of bankruptcies of especially small farmers.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Bankruptcy, suicides. I mean, it’s terrible. One of the worst things having in this country is talking about farmer suicides. They just can’t manage anymore. They’re going bankrupt. They can’t keep up.

Dhru Purohit:
A lot of rural areas have guns, where suicides are more common. When it comes to gun denser suicides.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah. And we have these subsidies, oh, the farmers are getting all these subsidies and blah, blah, blah. Guess what those subsidies are used for? Buying GMO seed, buying pesticides, buying fertilizers, buying glyphosate herbicides, they’re buying inputs that are sold to them by the agribusiness companies that are making off of the profits, but they’re just middlemen that are squeezed.

Dhru Purohit:
And for all the GMO advocates and the people that are out there that this is really the only true way to feed people. They’re ignoring the topsoil conversation completely just assuming that like, for anybody that is an advocate for GMOs and is saying, “Look, this is the way that we feed the world,” they’re not really factoring in that if we run out of soil, you don’t even have anything to plant those in any way.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
No, hijack the narrative. I mean, that’s the message. We got to feel the world, we kind of have to do without all this stuff. Well, in Europe, there’s no GMO. And research has shown very clearly that they use less pesticides and less fertilizer and less herbicides than using GMO crops and their yields are no better, if not worse. Fertilizer is a great example. When you use fertilizer, which shocked me actually when I learned this, we use 400 billion pounds of fertilizer. It is one of the most energy intensive processes to make nitrogen fertilizer, which uses fracking natural gas. In fact, the fertilizer companies are the biggest utilizers of natural gas far more than the energy companies, can you believe that?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And when you frack you add to climate change also because there’s about 34% contribution of methane to the environment. Because when you frack, you might have seen that New York Times article where in Ohio, there was this leaking methane being released from these fracking wells that you could see from space.

Dhru Purohit:
Yeah, people were getting sick from too much methane gas in the air.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Right. So that’s just one problem. Then on top of that, you put on the soil, and it releases nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more potent to greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. And if that wasn’t bad enough, then the fertilizer runs off because it goes into rivers, lakes and oceans and creates dead zones, for example, in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey and kills 212,000 metric tons of fish. Now, it also creates those dead zones around the world. There’s 400 similar dead zones, the size of Europe that are feeding 500 billion people and are threatened. I mean, this is the kind of stuff people just don’t think about. And that’s because of how we grow our food. I’m sorry, don’t get you too depressed because there are solutions.

Dhru Purohit:
There are solutions that I’m going to pivot to that. Besides just voting with your dollar, and people who have the ability and the privilege of being able to make better choices with their food and education if you’re listening to the podcast, chances are that’s you that’s listening here, we’re definitely of that. Even people who don’t have the means to sometimes support solutions that sometimes are a little bit more expensive in the beginning, but then the cost as more people adopt them can come there have access to another way to support this process, which is compost.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, yes. I just wanted to touch on the money thing before I get to compost, and we’ll get to food waste because it’s the way that we get to compost.

Dhru Purohit:
Please. Let’s do it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So there’s a ranch called Mariposa Ranch where you can buy online direct to consumer, regenerative raised beef for $8 a pound on average, which is when you think about it for a [inaudible 00:41:00] serving, less than a McDonald’s Big Mac.

Dhru Purohit:
Which goes back to really, if you really want to save money with food, cooking is the solution.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Cooking is so powerful. Yes. And you can make good food at home for less money that you can go out with a family of four, and eat much better and be healthier and do good for you and good for the planet. And it takes a little bit of work, a little bit of help, but people can do it. I think the beautiful thing about regenerative ag is that it’s something we all can call for something, it’s something we can demand, it’s something we can ask for, it’s something we can search for. We can go to our community farmers markets, join our community to supported agriculture, and advocate for our congressmen and senators to change policy to support this. In fact, there’s a group called the Food Policy Action Group, that’s online foodpolicyaction.org that literally scores every Senator and Congressman for their vote on food and ag policy. And some of them are terrible. Some of them are awesome. And in fact, they used that platform to unseat two congressmen who were in the pocket of the food and ag industry using a massive social media campaign.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So we think our vote doesn’t matter. It does matter. These issues do matter. Find out what your senators and congressmen are thinking about, what your state representatives, your mayor. People care about these issues. I’m actually inspired. I got an email yesterday from somebody asking me to find a new executive director for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, which is a new food policy council. San Francisco has made composting mandatory. So why do we care about composting? Who cares? Well, the biggest problem with our food almost is food waste. We waste 30 to 40% of all the food we produce.

Dhru Purohit:
Imagine you go to the grocery store, buying your weekly groceries immediately coming home, taking 40% of it, 30% of it and throwing it into trash.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And throwing in garbage.

Dhru Purohit:
That’s exactly what’s happening but on a national level.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Exactly right. And the average family throws out about 1,800 dollars worth of food a year. It’s a lot of money from people. And if that food were grown on a piece of land, it would take the entire landmass of China to grow that much food. It’s a waste of over $2 trillion a year of food. And it is not only bad because of that, because so many people are starving and need to eat and don’t get to eat the food. It’s because when you throw the food in landfills, it decomposes, and actually creates methane, which again is 25 times more potent greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide. And if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China.

Dhru Purohit:
Wow.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s crazy, and yet it’s a solvable problem. In France, they made it illegal to throw out trash. It has to go to a food bank, it has to go to a composting facility, it has to go to feed animals, something right. And if you don’t you get a fine and then you can go to jail. In San Francisco, I don’t think they throw you in jail, but you probably get a fine and it’s mandatory composting, you go to the airport in San Francisco, there’s a compost bucket. Every city in American can do this.

Dhru Purohit:
And a lot of whole foods, most people [inaudible 00:44:01]. But if you live close to Whole Foods, Whole Foods you say, in Santa Monica, Los Angeles here, we’re really lucky to have these green bins everywhere and you can toss your compost inside of these green bins. Most houses have that. Some of my friends say, “In my local city, we don’t have those.” Okay, if you live nearby a Whole Foods, you can actually go and drop your compost off. Most of them will accept it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes you can.

Dhru Purohit:
In Massachusetts, I sent you an NPR article about how they’re leading the way in composting and that the state is working with Whole Foods to really triple, quadruple the amount of total compost that’s there and create a program that they hopefully can inspire other states to [crosstalk 00:44:40].

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, this is the way I think about this whole space. There’s so much food and ag tech business innovations that can happen. So you’re talking about this thing in Massachusetts, the state of Massachusetts made it illegal if you make a ton of garbage and food waste a week you can’t throw it out.

Dhru Purohit:
You have to compost.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
You have to figure out what to do with it. It’s not throwing it in the landfill. And so dairy farmers are making no money anymore. And they work with this other venture company called Vanguard. And they figured out how to create these anaerobic incinerators on their farm. They truck in three tractor trailer loads full every day of food waste, 100 tons a day. They throw it in this anaerobic incinerator, throw some dairy poop on it, it kind of creates energy that’s then turned into electricity that actually gives electricity for 1,500 homes.

Dhru Purohit:
It was amazing when I heard it. It’s like a triple threat. They’re getting electricity for those homes for free basically.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, dealing with the manure and dealing with food waste. And the farmer makes 100 grand a year because they’re losing money already.

Dhru Purohit:
And when people hear about the environment and doing these solutions, and composting, it’s like this is not a mom and pop thing where it’s just like people who are shopping at like health food stores who are freaking out about the environment and we’re all going to hell. These are not like little tiny solutions, states, big companies, Microsoft in a different way just committed to go carbon negative, that they’re going to pull out more carbon from the environment. They’re not doing it through composting. From what I’ve heard it’s more through advanced technologies that are pulling carbon out of environment, putting it into the ground, back into the soil. This is happening at a much bigger level, and we can be a part of it and accelerate it because if we don’t, and that’s the message of the book we’re screwed.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, Europe has 17,000 of these anaerobic incinerators. There should be a federal law, it should be mandatory, we shouldn’t be allowed through any food waste in the incinerator and then there should be programs in every state and city and county. I mean, in New York City, I can only walk a block from my apartment and throw it in the compost bin in the Union Square farmers market. I mean, not everybody has access to that but you can have it in your apartment. You can go on Amazon or go online and find a small in-apartment composter where you can throw your food scraps and it turns it into compost then you can give it to your community garden, you can get it to your local farmers, whatever, there’s ways to do it. And I’ve had a compost pile for 40 years and it’s so easy just throw it in a bucket in your kitchen, throw something if you have a backyard and there’s all sorts of ways to do this. So I think it’s really important and it’s a huge solution if we did this at scale.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s incredible. I think that’s the message of the book is first we’d understand the problem. But we also understand that we’re part of the problem all of us. But that also means that we’re part of the solution.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
For sure. And to be fairly straight. We all need to do our part. We can vote with our fork, but with our wallet, but with our vote. But at the end of the day, we do need massive shifts in global food policy, and especially starting United States and if we do that, we will see significant changes because we all need to be active politically. I know people feel discouraged. I know they feel disheartened. But think about the changes that happen in this country. People feel apathetic. How did abolition happen? It was a couple of people who said slavery is not cool.

Dhru Purohit:
Small minority.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yes, slavery is not cool. And then they like started to be in the underground railroad. Harriet Tubman was worried that we wouldn’t have a black president for like 100 years, while she was doing that thought there’d be end of slavery. It would take 50 years to end slavery? No, they just did it. What about women’s rights? Suffrage? Women stood up and said, “Hey, we need to make change, and we want the vote.” And finally they got the vote after 150 years of our country. And again, still, that wasn’t enough, and it took another 50, 60 years to get the Equal Rights Amendment and we’re still not quite there yet. So same thing with civil rights or gay rights, gay marriage. I mean, these things started on the margins. They started with people who were in their communities in their homes, becoming active and caring enough to do something. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Dhru Purohit:
There’s a small group of committed individuals, I mean, your podcasts pretty well known now. So maybe that group has gotten a little bit bigger, that are listening this podcast and all those individuals invest in their mental health, invest in their energy, are trying to be better citizens, are trying to be productive members of society, they care about it. And they vote sometimes, especially the ones that are in the wellness community or in spiritual communities. There’s a little bit of concern about getting caught up in politics because politics can seem so negative sometimes. So what’s your encouragement and your advice for people of how to be part of political system, but not let it eat you alive? With the debates and family debates against the president for the President, how can we use politics to lead as part of this shift, but still maintain our integrity of peace of mind as human beings?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, the truth is, and I’m pretty tied into a lot of people in Washington and politics. The truth is that your representatives depend on you for their vote, and they care about what you say and what you think. And if you work as a collective group, if you bring your community to Washington to meet with your representatives, if you meet with them in your local constituencies, if you build a coalition, for example, and do petitions and write letters, it matters they listen. I mean, think about everybody listening, we got 150,000 downloads of this podcast every week. Imagine if everybody wrote a letter to their senators and congressmen to say we want X or Y, we want you to support regenerative agriculture. We want to put nutrition back in food stamps. We want a better school lunch policy. We want the FDA to limit all the toxins in our food, guess what, they’re gonna listen.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s so true.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean, we abdicate. I mean, I do too. It’s like, we abdicate our authority to the corporations. I mean, there’s 187 lobbyists for every member of Congress. They spent in one year, in one year to fight GMO labeling, they spend $292 million. For the Farm Bill, which is every 10 years, or every five years, it kind of gets reviewed. They spend half a billion dollars a year.

Dhru Purohit:
So let’s make this super practical.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I mean it’s half a billion dollars for the whole Farm Bill.

Dhru Purohit:
It’s 2020. It’s an election year.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yep.

Dhru Purohit:
You’ve been close with some of the people that have been running for president on the Democratic side. So some of those people are still in the race some of those people are not on the race. But again, like you said, you work with people across the aisle, because this is a national issue, whether you’re Republican, independent, libertarian, Democrat, whatever it is. So it’s 2020, for the listeners of this podcast, when we’re in the midst of an impeachment trial with the President and there’s a lot of polarizing topics that are there. How can we make climate change and food part of that, besides writing to your representative and telling them what are practical things that people can do in an election year to get people to start talking about these matters?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I think they can read my book Food Fix and get educated, and then start talking about it in your local communities because people care and teach your friends, teach your co-work in your schools. This is a conversation that needs to start happening and that’s the hope of my book is it starts that conversation. And I’m launching something called The Food Fix Campaign, which is a nonprofit, with a 501C for advocacy group as well to help change policy in Washington because I care about this, and I’m not getting paid for it. I volunteer my time, in fact I donate money, I’m donating all the profits from the book to the foundation to actually start to make real change. And anybody can be part of that. And we need a whole grassroots coalition to start to make the movement. So I think if we’re apathetic, I understand it’s easy to say, “Heck with it, I’m just going to watch Netflix and hang out my friends and drink beer and like, whatever I get it.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
But if you care about your kids, if you care about your health, if you care about the environment you live in, if you care about your country, this is the most patriotic thing you could do is to stand up and say, “Hey, guys, you better listen about this, and you better deal with this because this is the most pressing issue of our time.”

Dhru Purohit:
So I want to take a pause real quick. And I want to take us back to the early life of Dr. Mark Hyman, and before he was a doctor. Where’s this advocacy energy come from? Just give us some insights into your life growing up, and where you were and how you sort of found your place in the world.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, I grew up in the 60s and got a little bit infected with the ideas of environmentalism, with the ideas about social change. And I remember when I was very young, I read a lot of books about this. I read biographies of Martin Luther King, I read about slavery and I read about this book called Walden on Walden Pond by Henry Thoreau, who wrote an essay called On Civil Disobedience, which was about standing up for our rights. And his civil disobedience idea was the beginning of the movement that influenced Gandhi, and got India free. He was a huge influence for Martin Luther King. And so I always had this idea that we should stand up for what matters to us and we should do something about it. And then we can be actors in our own life and not have to just be passive recipients of what’s happening in the world.

Dhru Purohit:
What was one of the first sort of campaigns or movements that you can remember, like actively getting involved with and participating with into some degree, not just reading about what you like, “You know what, I want to do something with this.”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, there are two things. There were two big things in college, one was No Nukes, and people don’t remember now, but under the Russia, Soviet Union-US conflict there was missiles pointed at each other, they could go off any second. And so, I was very concerned about that and became very involved in college and going to nuclear sites and protesting. I remember going to Rocky Flats plutonium plant where they make plutonium, which is the most deadly chemical toxin known to humankind. And I remember protesting and sitting on the railroad tracks with Allen Ginsberg and a bunch of crazy guys. And I was 20 years old and I was like, “Yeah, we need to do something we need to be active.” We got to protest in Washington and march, I was also very involved in the anti-apartheid movement in Africa, in college forcing our university to divest from South African businesses that were supporting apartheid. So, I always really was focused on these issues all the way through.

Dhru Purohit:
And it comes full circle because your own daughter has been a part of it.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
And actually got arrested.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I was like, “Rachel,” my daughter, “why didn’t you call me on Father’s Day?” She was, “Well, Dad, I was in jail.” I said, “Why were you in jail?” She said, “Well, I was on the [inaudible 00:55:26] plateau in Utah, where they’re doing tar sands mining with a big company from Canada. It’s threatening the headwaters of the Colorado River and the livelihood in the water supply for Native American it means all the way down in the whole Colorado River itself.” So I was like, “Alright, that’s okay.” She’s a very much socially minded girl. For Thanksgiving, she doesn’t go eat a bunch of turkey and get food comas like the rest of us. She goes to the Navajo reservation, where most of them live far below the poverty line living basically in wood huts, have no heat and no running water, and she brings a truck down, they have no trucks, and actually creates firewood for the winter.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
They have a whole team come down, and they chop firewood, they cut it, they bring it to people. This old guy was there that she met this old Native American who’s like, “I know at least I’ll make it through the winter because I think I was going to freeze to death. I didn’t have any way to heat my home.” She’s amazing. She went to Standing Rock, and I bought all the cooking implements for the kitchen, and I gave her money to go down and help any Americans. I’m going to buy them a truck so they actually have a truck so they can get heat in the winter and get firewood I mean, things that most of us don’t even think about. [inaudible 00:56:40], “How are we going to stay warm this winter.” I mean, how many of you listening, think about that? Oh, you just turn the dial up on your thermostat. But that’s not how it is for everybody. So she’s very focused on that.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I’m very proud of her and she’s going to medical school, not under my advice. I’ve encouraged her not to go but she seems to want to go.

Dhru Purohit:
So in addition to the political genes which have definitely been passed on, and this advocacy, there was also this sort of through line of interest in spirituality, where did that come from in your early life growing up spirituality, Buddhism, Eastern philosophies? Where did that come from?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think I was born with odd, which means I’m odd. And I remember being two or three years old, and like seeing grownups and wondering why they weren’t all full of love and connection. And that’s all I felt was just love for everybody and didn’t understand what was going on. And, and it was a very rough go for me growing up in that space, that head space and I began to sort of read different books and explore different philosophies, ended up reading again on Walden Pond, which was heavily influenced, like when I was 14, by Eastern philosophies. And all the transcendentalist like Emerson, and so forth, and became very interested in that. The Upanishads, the Vedas. And then I went to a lecture, my sister brought me to it, Amherst College where she went by Robert Thurman who’s a Tibetan Buddhist scholar. And I was like, “Holy crap, what is it?”

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So it all came together and started reading Alan Watts. And I became fascinated with this even before I went to college, and ended up going to Cornell and majored in Asian Studies in Buddhism. It was an accident. I just keep taking the courses. “No, you have to have a major.” I’m like, “What major?” “Well, you have a lot of Asian Studies credits,” I’m like, “Okay.” “You have to have a language.” I’m like, “Oh, geez, I don’t know. I better speak Chinese because a lot of people speak Chinese. That could be a good bet.” So I studied Chinese.

Dhru Purohit:
How do you think your studies in Asian philosophy and your work in spirituality, your connection to source the universe, God, however you see it, your upbringing in the Jewish tradition, like your background, your family background. How do you think that that shapes your view on these global problems that we’re faced with today?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, I mean, there’s two things that may sound kind of corny, but one is a central Jewish philosophy, which is Tikkun Olam, which I talked about in the book, which means to repair the world. So, when you look at civil rights and social justice movements, there’s a lot of Jews involved in that. Why? Because it’s part of the culture, is to make the world a better place. To heal the world. So that always was in me. And then I studied Buddhism and the fundamental concept in there is compassion, and separating your ego from your life’s purpose. Healing that sense of separateness, so I always felt connected to everything. And it really drove who I am. And I think the idea of a bodhisattva which is this idea of this being who reaches the edge of enlightenment, the doors of enlightenment, and then turns back to help take care of the world, to heal the world, to compassionately serve those who are suffering. And that’s sort of the embedded software I think that I have in my DNA that drives my every behavior.

Dhru Purohit:
And part of the work that I see you doing is reminding people that if you are born into privilege or have attained some sort of privilege in your life where you actually can pay attention to these things rise up against the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, then you have the power, the will, the right, the duty to also give back into this world.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, it’s true. And I wasn’t like that, I grew up in Queens in a very poor neighborhood. My mom slept on the couch, my sister and I shared the bedroom. We hate chicken livers and onions and rice. I thought that was like a gourmet meal. I didn’t realize that chicken livers are the cheapest thing you could buy. And my mom was a schoolteacher and made like seven grand a year and we were struggling. And it was hard and and yet I felt like I didn’t know any different, I just said this what you know. But I really strongly feel that we are a human community. People say, how can you meet with this one or that one? They’re Republican, they get mad at me for meeting with the Democrat, if they’re Democrat… I’m like, how can you treat this person? I’m like, I take care of everybody. I don’t care if you’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Democrat, Republican, whoever you are you’re human being first. That’s always what I believe. And everybody deserves love and care and compassion.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I might not agree with everything they think or feel. Like I did this thing in the church with Rick Warren. He’s an evangelical Christian guy, who we have very similar values at the core, but also we have very big differences on certain issues, for example, being gay is one. And I don’t have a problem with it, but I think certain evangelical Christians do, he’s more moderate, but I just think people get really upset. And people got upset with him for dealing with me because I did yoga and it’s sacrilegious to do yoga. And he doesn’t care. I think we just have to find the common ground where we all can work together. And I think of it like the Game of Thrones, I didn’t really watch it and my wife’s like, “You got to watch it because I’m going to watch season eight, and if you want to watch me you got to get up to speed.” I’m like, All right. All right.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
So I watch Game of Thrones, and I’m like, it’s a metaphor, the dead are coming. We’re all going to be gone unless we work together. I don’t care which family you’re from or who you hate, forget about it all. We’re in an existential moment in human history and if you want to read about it, read an Uninhabitable Earth, read Fault by Bill McKibben. It’s really undeniable at this point and I think we have to come together and say, look, we’re killing ourselves. The economy of the world is threatened by chronic disease. According the World Economic Forum it’s the biggest threat to global economic development. We’re killing ourselves with the food we’re eating. We’re killing the planet. We’re destroying biodiversity. We’re creating a generation of kids that’s not going to live well. I mean, for the last three years in a row, life expectancy has gone down in America.

Dhru Purohit:
Which is nuts to think about it because you think about the world progressing. And especially in America, we should be living longer with all the advancements that are there, but it’s actually going backwards.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
It’s going backwards. Yeah.

Dhru Purohit:
And there’s a whole bunch of factors including opiate crisis, a lot of other things, increased rates of suicides, but in general, that all goes towards our overall well-being, and how well-being even though technology is advancing, it’s also the thing that’s getting us into trouble and well-being is regressive.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Maybe I jump this in the book because I talk about the effect of food, not just on the economy, not just on climate and not just on health, but on mental health, on behavior, on violence. Why is there so much divisiveness? Why is there so much disconnection in the world? Why is there so much hatred? I recently had David Perlmutter on my podcast and his son talking about his book Brain Wash, and I learned something that was so striking. He said, “Because of our inflammatory lifestyle,” namely caused by our inflammatory diet, all the processed foods, lack of exercise, stress, lack of sleep, all that it disconnects the adult in the room, our frontal brain, our prefrontal cortex, with our lizard brain, the fight or flight part of our brain, the amygdala. And when that disconnection happens, the adult in the room doesn’t work. And so that’s why people are so reactive, and impulsive and aggressive and it’s like, oh my God, come on people.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I think we’re so divided and maybe some of it has to do with the food. We see that depression is connected to food. We see that using randomized trials feeding people healthy diets, depression gets better. We see that using healthy diets in violent criminals or in juvenile delinquents, in places where they have really ability to control what they’re eating dramatically reduces violence, oppositional behavior, aggression, self-harm, even suicide. I mean, just giving prisoners a healthy diet in prison reduces violent crime by 56%. I mean, think about it.

Dhru Purohit:
I think zooming out and taking the 40,000 foot view on the new book on what you’re talking about the new message that’s out there. It’s not just about saving our planet. It’s not just about reversing climate change. It’s not just about making our political system better and injustice and reversing injustice and food injustice that’s out there. It’s also about improving our own health. We do this yeah, we win too.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yeah, 100%. I mean, the beautiful thing about it and what was so beautiful thinking about this from my book, and it really is functional medicine. It’s honestly functional medicine for the food system and for the planet. Because when you go upstream to the cause, all the problems go away. Like, I think about this girl treated, who had so many different issues. Now this woman, she had psoriatic arthritis, which required a very expensive drug, which is 50 grand a year. So that means they have arthritis with bad Psoriasis. She had reflux, she had irritable bowel, she had pre-diabetes, she was depressed. I mean, just one thing after the other. She didn’t need a skin doctor and a joint doctor and a psychiatrist and a stomach doctor, et cetera, et cetera. We fixed her gut. We just got rid of gluten and dairy, processed food and sugar. We got her gut bacteria healthy, and everything went away. It was like one stop shopping. It was so easy. It was so cheap.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
And the same thing is really with the food system. As I wrote Food Fix, I began to see that if we start at the seed level, we create the seeds of change. We start with nutrient dense plants. We start with regenerative agriculture. It produces better quality food in ways that are better for us and the animals and even if you don’t eat animals, you need animals as part of the cycle. We can get into that if you want. And then it creates better quality food that humans eat that makes them healthier and creates a win-win domino effect across all these crises we’re facing. The economic crises, the global health crises, the crises of children education, the crises of depression and mental health and violence and behavior issues, the crises of poverty all these things get solved if we just fix the food system.

Dhru Purohit:
So Mark, the book is out there it’s available for pre-order there’s a bunch of really cool bonuses, share with your audience where they can find it and what you have available for them.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
I encourage you to go to foodfixbook.com, its foodfixbook.com because on that site not only can you pre-order the book, but I’ve got an amazing free bonus video which is five steps to heal the planet and your health. And the book is full of action steps for citizens, for policymakers, for businesses and so forth. So there’s a very detailed action guide so you don’t feel helpless. It’s on the website so check that out, foodfixbook.com.

Dhru Purohit:
And one of the coolest bonuses that I would throw in there for anybody that’s interested in what you do which we’re going to be talking about in part two, there is a longevity masterclass, it’s included. Tell the audience a little bit about that and you get that only if you pre-order the book. What is the class?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Well, the truth is I become way more interested in longevity the older I get. Now that I’ve turned 60 I’m super interested in it so I’ve been studying like crazy about how to keep my health strong and healthy so I can do all this work because I got a whole thing to do here. This is not going to take a couple of years, this is going to take a couple of decades to fix the food systems so I got to get strong and healthy. So I put all my secrets and all the things I’ve learned and all the foundations of functional medicine into this longevity masterclass, it’s available free when you pre-order the book.

Dhru Purohit:
Foodfixbook.com, you can find it, get the pre-order over there and get all the bonuses.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Yep.

Dhru Purohit:
One thing leads them all. I think that’s a great place to pause for part one of this conversation, Food Fix: How to save our health, our economy, our communities and our planet one bite at a time. Dr. Mark Hyman, you broke it down. In part two of the podcast which is coming up. We’re going to talk about should you go vegetarian to save the planet?

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Vegan

Dhru Purohit:
Even vegan, and other top questions that the audience had. Mark, this was incredible part one of the conversation.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Thanks Dhru. You’ve been listening to The Doctor’s Farmacy. And if you liked this conversation, please share it with your friends and family on social media. Leave a comment we’d love to hear from you and we’ll see you next time on The Doctor’s Farmacy with a very special guest, yours truly.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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