The Good Life, Organic Living, and Macrowikinomics

This post is the first in a series by my students at Mississippi Governor’s School. As a final project, they were challenged with creating an idea that could be used on a massive scale to help others live the good life. 

As I scoured the World Wide Web to find the perfect topic for me to write about which involved macrowikinomics (read: a mass collaboration to revolutionize the way we live), one principle was constantly on my mind- my beautiful first love:

nutrition.

 Nutrition: image by https://secure.flickr.com/photos/widnr/

            My infatuation with all things health-nut began almost exactly a year ago, starting in late June of 2012. For some reason, I started to take interest my daily caloric intake and the nutritional value of the foods I was eating. Milkshakes, cream-based pasta sauces, french fries, entire pizzas – oh, and don’t forget the Caesar salad for that “health” kick – these were things I consumed on a regular basis. Not all at once, mind you, and as a competitive swimmer I hardly thought once about eating these things. But I could tell the end of my swimming career was drawing near, and I saw the shocking nutritional stats; my mind was blown. I needed a lifestyle change.

In the past year, I’ve had my ups and downs trying to figure out my perfect balance of getting in all of my favorite health foods while still enjoying a hearty slice of caramel cake every now and again. I’ve even started a Christian food blog – cookingwiththeking.com – and while it’s still really in the works, it’s helped me to develop lighter recipes for things that I love- especially inventive pancakes (carrot cake pancakes with cream cheese syrup– enough said).

Cooking: image by http://cookingwiththeking.com/

So, why was that spiel necessary? And what does that have to do with macrowikinomics and what I’ve learned in philosophy class (aka- The Good Life; aka- mindblowing madness) here at Mississippi Governor’s School?

On the first Friday of class, JJ taught us about Philosophy and Food. We learned about the corruption and “gastroporn” of the food industry. We watched a few shorts about fast food advertising, and we recalled the documentary Supersize Me. We talked about the importance of supporting local farmer’s markets in order to avoid the nasty chemicals our grocery store produce can often be washed in. Finally – something that made me feel at home at Governor’s School! I loved it!

Days later in class we learned about GoodGuide.com, a website which  encourages the purchase of certain brands and products that are nutritious while benefitting society and the environment. I was happy to find that many of my favorite brands – likeClif – were among the best companies from which to purchase, and I was encouraged to find out more.

We also learned about CarbonRally.com, another website – this time one that focuses on green living and reducing the size of one’s carbon footprint. This is accomplished by members joining “teams” and taking on challenges, some of which involve food and nutrition. Our philosophy class formed a team, and we were challenged to resist eating meat for two days. By doing this, we reduced out total carbon emissions by almost twenty pounds! We plan on continuing our efforts to stay green even after Governor’s School is over.

Now, how can this be applied to macrowikinomics? After these three weeks, I have become absolutely determined to make nutrition and organic living of the upmost importance in my life. As Americans consume more and more overly processed food and fill landfills with materials that can be recycled, we are only setting ourselves up for major disaster – not The Good Life.

When I arrive home, I plan on grocery shopping with my own, reusable bags; buying organic or Good Guide-approved products as often as possible; growing my own produce and buying out my hometown farmer’s market; and learning the “ins and outs” of the new recycling program we have at home. As an American teenager, I challenge both the adults of today’s society and its future – my generation – to do this as well. Of course, organic living can be expensive, but what we put into the environment is what we get from it. Garbage in, garbage out.

For the last year of my high school career, I plan on making a difference in my school. I want to place recycling bins across campus and start an organic revolution. I know these seem like baby steps, and I know it will take lots of time – and possibly a few anger management courses – to accomplish this. However, I hope that by starting small at home that I will be able to bring my efforts with me to college and possibly turn organic living into a branch of my career as I major in nutrition.

Finally, my major macrowikinomics goal for myself would be to personally revamp high school health courses – courses many schools require students to take before graduating – to extensively cover nutrition. I’d also love to see healthy, well-prepared cafeteria meals for students; they don’t have to be gross, and they don’t have to be expensive.

It’s important to me that people continue to enjoy living their own personal versions of The Good Life, and I want to make that possible. I want to start a nationwide – and possibly worldwide – program that is, well, programmed to better inform people about their both their nutritional and environmental choices; not by making them feel guilty, but by making them feel encouraged to do what’s good for them and the environment. I want my team to be able to host workshops and teach classes to help people see that with just a little effort, they can make a huge difference, not only in their lives but also in the lives of many others.

I’d also want to expand those efforts into a website so that all people would have the opportunity to learn about nutrition and the environment at their fingertips – free of charge. I’d want there to be open discussion panels for people to encourage and inspire one another to develop new, innovative ways of organic living, and I’d want there to be a blog full of guest posts to accomplish the same. Webinars would also be an innovative tool to use to involve others in the spreading of organic living macrowikinomics.

The problem, it seems, is that Americans don’t know what the right choices to make, and with high schoolers approaching college and the rest of their lives, making the right choices nutrition-wise isn’t something to play around with. If the trend to be green and healthy starts at a high school level, I feel as if obesity rates would decline, environmental woes would decrease, and people would find it much easier to enjoy The Good Life.

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