From the well-researched point of view of another “big picture” guy
When I first began learning about the many repercussions of our food choices in 2002, I immediately wanted to understand the “big picture.” After more than ten years of studying and three years of writing and blogging about this crucial topic, I have found another “big picture” guy—Dr. Richard Oppenlander, who has been studying, writing and speaking about this topic for more than thirty years.
Like me, his background is not related to food, health, or the environment; yet he has become an expert in the big picture as it relates to our food choices. His book, Comfortably Unaware, was published in 2011 by Beaufort Books and is an incredible source of information on a plethora of issues related to what we eat. From the book’s description on Amazon:
In Comfortably Unaware, Dr. Richard Oppenlander tackles the crucial issue of “global depletion” as it relates to food choices. We should all be aware of our diet’s consequences on the environment and commit to seeking food products that are in the best interest of all living things. His stark mental images are often disturbing–and that’s how it should be. We need to be shaken out of our complacency and understand how to ensure the well-being of our planet–and of ourselves.
Oppenlander presents this information in easy-to-read chapters on issues including rainforests, oceans, and the air we breathe. His fresh insight on this controversial topic goes beyond the familiar warnings about “global warming.” His book is essential reading; he provides new perspectives on how this global crisis reached such startling proportions, and how to solve the problem.
Last week, my good friend Susan Benigas (Co-founder of the Plant-Based Healthcare Conference) sent me a note telling me that she had found someone who would surely become my kindred spirit—telling me that she felt like she was reading something that I wrote—and knew that I want to get to know Richard.
On Friday, I began by watching an 84-minuted video of his presentation at the March 2013 McDougall Advanced Study Weekend. I began watching the video at home, watched another half hour at the Mystic Starbucks and finished watching it on the train to New York.
As the video ended, I purchased a Kindle copy of Richard’s book on Amazon and was reading Chapter 3 as I arrived at Grand Central Station. After watching this video, I am confident that you will also want to buy the book.
I mentioned that Richard Oppenlander has been studying this topic for much longer than I—here is something that he wrote in 1989:
Regarding Food: “Every day each of us must make choices and then, ultimately, take responsibility for the comprehensive impact of those decisions. Therefore, it seems to be the inherent duty of everyone to make as informed a choice as possible. We should all be committed to understanding the reality and consequences of our diet, the footprint it makes on our environment, and seek food products that are in the best interest of all living things.” Richard A. Oppenlander, 1989
Telling it like it is. Like other authors in this field, Richard focuses on the truth, regardless of how uncomfortable hearing the cold hard facts might be for some people. From the book’s introduction, he explains why he has chosen to be totally candid in telling the world these much-needed truths:
Numerous books have been written about various diets and food as it relates to our health. Many also are now available about global warming and climate change. Comfortably Unaware is the first to bring to light the much larger and more insidious issue of global depletion as it relates to food.
I have not cut corners or suppressed topics to avoid exposing businesses, institutions, or individuals and I am not concerned whether or not it is a risky business move for me to write this book. I also have not withheld or modified information because it may be difficult for you, the reader, to accept it or because it may be culturally or socially overloading for you.
So, my agenda is clear: to provide you with complete truth and compel you to understand all the issues of this critical topic. It is my sincere hope that you become more aware of and sensitive to the ubiquitous effect of your food choices and that a positive difference can be made in your life and in the health of our planet and all its inhabitants.
One final point. As you may know, I come from a 35-year career in business; working ten or more years in three primary roles: industrial engineer, corporate executive and executive recruiter. During that career, I learned a lot about focusing on the big picture, improving processes, building teams, identifying talent and recruiting leaders. I learned nothing about healthy eating or saving our species. But, since 2002, I have invested the requisite 10,000 hours in learning all about the big picture of our food choices.
Since writing my book in 2011, I have published about another million words in 800 separate blogposts and am now lining up speaking engagements every chance I get. Like me, Dr. Oppenlander’s primary career has not been in food, health and environmental studies. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he has earned his living as a dentist—and still maintains an active practice in the Kalamazoo area.
But his primary message has nothing to do with dentistry—rather, it’s all about the terrifying planetary repercussions that are driven by our demand for meat, dairy and fish. Nowadays, in addition to his practice in Michigan, he has started an organic vegan food production company, operates an animal rescue sanctuary, and is the founder and president of Inspire Awareness Now.
Both of us, because of our passion for this topic, have studied it enough to be able to offer a fresh, big picture perspective that you may not always get from the “insiders.” Dr. Campbell mentioned this phenomenon in the foreword to my book:
Too often in a field of study, we rely solely on those people who have established themselves as “inside experts.” Yet, sometimes the most interesting perspectives are those that come from outside the field. And that is the case here—Jim’s perspective has enabled him to tell a story in his book that is informative, engaging and compelling.
I feel the same way about the work of Dr. Oppenlander. Yesterday I sent him an introductory email but we have not yet spoken—I look forward to getting to know this remarkable man.
- Click here to purchase Comfortably Unaware on Amazon.
- For Oppenlander’s latest book, Food Choice and Sustainability: Why Buying Local, Eating Less Meat, and Taking Baby Steps Won’t Work
- Dr. Oppenlander’s 8-20-13 blogpost on the Forks Over Knives website
- My engineering background helps me to focus primarily on the solution—after learning all about the big picture of the problem. S.O.S. (Saving Our Species) — An urgently needed PLAN (posted 8-22-13)
- My latest blog about our SOS Global Initiative. Bill Clinton connects “sustainability” and food choices (posted 8-23-13)
Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The ”big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
- Dr. Campbell’s new book: WHOLE, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.
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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation