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The Paradox of the Green

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

Green, the color, is associated with a lot of concepts and aspects of our lives. For example, the heart chakra is colored green, money is referred to as “the green”, plants and vegetation are mentioned in common language as “greens”; we look at a green light in our day to day commute as permission to proceed. I am sure all of you can find many more references to this color in your personal lives. However today, I just want to focus on the financial and health-related reference of the color green and how they interact in the two worlds I have been part of so far.

Green in Benin, AFRICA

If you don’t know, I am from the Benin Republic, a small country in West Africa. As a developing country, it comes as no surprise that “Green” as in money is not exactly our biggest resource. I don’t want to focus on the economy of the country but bring attention to how money affects our perspective on the “health-green”, fruits and veggies consumption. Growing up in Benin, I didn’t necessarily realize that we had a seemingly healthier diet than Americans. Fruits and veggies were just a normal part of the lifestyle. We did not exactly eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables; but oranges, papayas, pineapples, and many other fruits could be found everywhere. during my childhood, I saw my mom grow banana trees, orange trees, lime and lemon trees, papaya trees, palm trees, beans, pepper (black and habanero), tomato… just like in many households. Of course, if you live in downtown Cotonou, you don’t have that luxury, but you had access to all that at the big markets. I know I am describing “heaven” for someone, but stop drooling and stay with me. My parents will bring apples and imported items from time to time but since they were more expensive, we considered those foreign items as a luxury. Only the wealthy or upper-middle-class would drink juices and eat sausage for breakfast. The average household had other diet habits I would need to show you. It was believed that if you had the “money-green”, you were not supposed to eat as much of the health-green. Why? Because of watching so many western TV shows, we came to think that in wealthier countries, they eat more carbs and meat, so health-green must be for poor people, like us in countries similar to BENIN.

Green in the USA

Today I have lived in the USA for a while, and even if carbs and meat are still an important part of the diet, it is amazing how fast “health-green” is growing in popularity. This society has become so health-conscious that it is demanding that medication or diet supplements be plant-based or natural. In one of the wealthiest countries on this planet, wealth and good health are signs of abundance. The wealthy do more to eat better foods. Meat and carbs are consumed on special occasions while health-greens are considered the basics. As for the fatty, high in sugar diet, it is made in such quantity that it ends up being the cheapest option available if you are poor and broke. The problem is that even Americans have forgotten how that diet started. For many, it is actually an important part of the culture. For others, it is just the only option. And when we go higher in purchase power, we can notice that fatty is like a reward while green and natural is the foundation.

The ideal combination

I honestly believe there should be a balance of macro-nutrients in our diet, and I know it is arguable. However, my goal is to bring to your attention to the distortions we created in our societies and the possible solutions I see. First, I think governments from both developing and developed countries should promote a plant-based diet and facilitate its access to the populations. In addition, teaching about abundance and wealth should be part of our education system in whatever way possible. will your life be easier that way? Do you think it is our personal responsibility to learn how to create and accept the abundance that surrounds us?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments session.

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