Indeed, this is just one of the many questions the world’s leading experts on health, nutrition and sustainability will be discussing during the “Healthy Agriculture, Healthy Nutrition, Healthy People” conference (sponsored by Stonyfield) in Olympia, Greece this week. Why Olympia as a conference site? Symposium founder Dr. Artemis P. Simopoulos put it as eloquently as an ancient Greek poet in her opening remarks:
“Because just like the seminal idea of the Olympics, we want these ideas to take hold and spread around the world.”
An added bonus for attendees: it’s easy and thrilling to consider such grand questions while basking in the glories of the first Olympic games, as opposed to, say, a windowless conference center. But that is the point. From the food to the surroundings, this conference is full immersion in the message it promotes.
In addition to looking at the latest science on the relationship between nutrition and fitness to chronic disease, where the conference truly breaks new ground is in also considering the influence of agricultural practices on climate change and overall health of the globe's citizens.
“The first step to change is having a more expansive view of what contributes to good health, and recognizing the importance of our diet, our food system, our agricultural policies and their effect on the environment,” Simopoulos said.
So back to the question at hand-what would Aristotle have thought? I’m always a sucker for succinct nutrition in a tweet, and in tonight’s opening Keynote by Dr. Ole Faergeman I got another gem:
“Eat plants. Plant trees. Leave coal gas and oil in the ground.”
This, he mused, is what Aristotle might of have made of our health and environmental problems of today. Faegerman also left attendees with this fantastic insight:
“The Greek conception of tragedy was not like that a journalist today who uses the word to describe something that’s extremely sad. Rather, the Greeks thought about tragedy as a series of events that are initiated by ourselves, the course of these events determined by universal laws, and it is in our ignoring of laws that leads us to disaster."
In other words, there is a logic to tragedy.
The question is: Are we planning out a tragedy?
I’m excited to delve into the possibilities over these next few days at the conference. You can follow the hash tag #greekhealth and @greeneating on Twitter if you want to see updates from the sessions.