Schools and other places of education have a key task in this domain. For schools and kindergartens are involved in a closely-woven network of social relationships between teachers, children or pupils and parents. During these social interactions people spend a lot of time together and food plays an important role: breakfast, breaks, and lunch-time. People meet at conferences, which often include supper. People celebrate festivals together, at which providing food represents an essential component. Likewise on class trips or while doing other projects where classes and groups of pupils cook together.
Waning of healthy instincts
In schools food and nutrition are an issue. Nutrition is spoken about, baking, cooking, eating are done together, sometimes even shopping is done together. Sensory experiences (tasting) with a lasting effect are provided, habits and abilities are formed; indeed, health is developed. Does the school have a plan concerning nutrition? Is nutrition part of the school’s health programme? Rudolf Steiner recommends teaching nutrition as the main lesson on health for Class 7.
He justified these lessons with the waning of healthy instincts, with the rise in egoism, on the one hand, and with the faculty of judgement-making, on the other. Are the content taught and the timing of the lessons still in order? How are the pupils introduced to the complexity of the problem of nutrition? For instance, through the main lesson from the grain to the bread, or the main lesson on plants, or through particular projects? In which other lesson contexts can biological, geographical, historical, economic and other interconnections of the complex problems with nutrition be treated?
Lots of questions arise for dealing with this area, lots of things would be possible. How many schools have integrated the home economics topic, which includes cooking as well, in their lesson planning? How many schools have invested in a kitchen for lessons? How many schools have a school kitchen programme, in which the pupils are involved? What views on nutrition and what training do the head of the school kitchen and staff have? To what extent does the school succeed in integrating gardening into the school kitchen situation? Where does the school get its food from? Of what quality is it? What views on the nutrition of the children are passed on at parents’ evenings? All this is time-consuming to organise, but everything is a question of priorities, of the school’s plan.
In the 21st century it is evident how the health situation of human beings forms one entity with the ecological situation of the earth. Medicine in the present and in the future must take into account the context of the whole earth. On 15th November 2022 the number of human beings on the planet crossed the threshold of eight billion . In 1974 there were still only 4 billion. People assume that by 2050 the earth will have to feed nearly ten billion people. This fact, together with the manner in which all the inhabitants of the earth are fed, lead to huge challenges, challenges for agriculture, food production, and for the relationship of human beings to the realms of nature on the earth.
More than 70 % of our illnesses are caused by people’s lifestyle. Heart and circulation problems, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, cancers and strokes are largely bound up with our eating habits and the amount of exercise we have. They are frequently the result of overweight and obesity. Overeating and unhealthy eating are currently the cause of roughly a quarter of all illnesses.  All chronic illnesses and some mental illnesses are an existential threat to the future of humankind, to be compared with climate change. Thus, medicine is standing at a crossroads. For, with the familiar approaches, which concentrate on the body and on the fighting, eliminating and suppressing of illnesses with the help of medication and high-tech equipment, it is travelling down a dead end road. At the current rate of the spread of chronic and mental illnesses, the health care system will collapse in a limited number of years. If the next generation is not to be faced with an unmanageable burden of illnesses anymore, a decisive change in lifestyle and just as much a change in energy policy is required.
Education: Not just a transfer of knowledge
Thus, it becomes evident that stronger preventative and salutogenetic approaches have to be sought, laying the foundations for a positive, healthy lifestyle from early childhood on, tackling their behaviour regarding their health and stimulating and enabling them to actively shape their lives. Thus, we come to the area of education, not only age-wise. Medicine needs to take on the soul-spiritual side, that is to say, the motivational side of our human personalities. Thereby, pedagogical aspects regarding the significance of prevention receive a more important role, whether it be in the area of community building and social interactions, whether it be in relation to children’s ability to imitate, whether it be in the manner of conveying the material or of the instruction, or else in the sense of the schooling and self-development of the teachers.
On the other hand, it is becoming more and more obvious that in education, it is not simply a matter of passing on knowledge and competence, but of learning physically with the body, of learning emotionally and socially, of developing a readiness to learn through relationships; it is a matter of relieving stress, creating positive feelings and well-being, of rhythm and a holistic view (among other things); in other words, it is a matter of considering many aspects that are relevant to health.
«Only when we dwell in our bodies, will we keep the earth as a place fit to dwell in» (T. Fuchs: Die Verteidigung des Menschen, p. 14, meaning «The Defence of the Human Being»). The realms of nature are the extension of our bodies. They are the living foundation of our health, our self-awareness and our culture. The integrated unity of preventative medicine (also veterinary medicine), of sustainable and regenerative nutrition and agriculture as well as holistic education and formative development in the sense of salutogenesisis currently the task of civilisation. This can only happen on the basis of an integrated and holistic image of the human being and world-view. 
Anthroposophical fields of life – through their sisterly (or brotherly) set-up – have a favourable starting position for this. Anthroposophy has an approach with an intrinsic health-supporting factor. It may well be one of the most eminent tasks of the next few years to increase the awareness of this approach in the interplay of anthroposophical agriculture, medicine and education and to enhance its practise.
Translated by John Weedon