The other day I was reading about the plague of “nature deficiency.” I was in a ritzy coffee shop in a plaza off a main highway. Off in the distance, beyond the pavement and sidewalks, I could see a bit of green. I read on.
Basically, our bodies need daily inputs of various items – nutrients, minerals, water, oxygen … and contact with the natural world. Too many folks are losing out on the last item, and it has effects on their mental and physical health. So the value of a forest or lake or field goes well beyond the resources. In short, the impressive magnitude of rural Canada can keep us from getting sick.
Even in cities, access to natural areas has a positive effect on rates of depression and certain types of cancer. Maybe occasionally our policy makers might stop obsessing about the economic value of nature uprooted and consider the health benefits of nature left intact?
It struck me that we should have a “Required Daily Allowance” (RDA) measurement for contact with nature. Just like labelling on food that tells us how much of our required polyunsaturated fats we’re getting in a slice of bacon. We could have labels like the following.
“A walk in the park gives you 28% of your Nature RDA.”
“Staring at a bird gives you 5%.”
“Pulling some weeds from a lettuce patch gives you 12%.”
A fine way to get your Nature RDA is growing food. A tomato plant on a patio is a connection with the living world, as well as a sign of hope.
I remember some research from the early 1960s done in communities along the west coast of NL. It listed the sacks of potatoes and turnips and other crops grown in these communities over several years. There was a decline in gardening in communities with higher levels of unemployment. This didn’t make sense at first. After all, didn’t these folks have more time available? But when people lose hope, they stop planting gardens.
What are you doing to get your Nature RDA today?