Killer at Large

Convenience and low price may allow us to get a bigger telly and have more time vegging in front of it  (pun intended)… but is it really worth it?

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  • Is it comfort or laziness we are seeking?
  • Do we want more nutritious food? Or or just lots of flavor, with no or little regard for nutrition?
  • Are the man-made food-like substances with all the calculated nutrients really matching up to the whole foods that come with no nutrition label?
  • Has food science got a one-up on the nature?

I have an inkling that marketers and the government shun aside morals as they fool us in to thinking that they have it figured out, and they know best. 

Looking at the health of the west (and in particular the US) should we trust what the government (USDA and FDA) is saying about nutrition?

I don’t think so. But at least those lovely pharmaceutical companies have our best interest at heart by providing us with lots of pills to treat all the western diseases (yeah, right!).

I wonder, if we changed our approach to eating, would we need them?

Many cultures that have not been infected with the western diet show us convincing proof that we would not.  Western diseases are absent without the western diet.  Not to mention better individual health and the health of the community.  Meds are a good tool that can be used in treatment of disease, but it seems we could avoid many diseases with preventative methods.  A healthier diet.

It’s true that the west is spending less of their earnings on food, but the lesser known fact is that the money we are saving is going to pay for our medical bills, which often come as a direct result of our poor diet.

Simpler food chain:

Sun → greens → little bit of animal → nutritious food

Complex, and ironically cheaper food chain (due to government subsidies and the power of industrial/intensive agriculture):

Sun+chemicals+antibiotics → corn/soy→ fuel for transport → processing plant → more fuel → breeding lot → fuel → feeding lot → fuel → processing plant → fuel → packaging plant → fuel → super market → food void of nutrition but with very colorful and deceptive health benefit label

Is organic better?

Not necessarily.  Take a look at a possible organic food chain:

Sun→corn/soy→fuel for transport→processing plant→fuel→breeding lot→fuel→feeding lot→fuel→processing plant→fuel→packaging plant→fuel→super market→food void of nutrition but with very colorful and deceptive organic health benefit label

The simpler food chain that goes beyond organic is undeniably better for our health, our communities health and the health of the earth.  I could go on, but I’ll give you a few resources that I have found very helpful (see end).

Better than just filling up with good facts, why not give a simple, sustainable, seasonal and local diet a go?

Will the benefits speak for themselves?

If you are not convinced by the facts, I’m confident you will find the proof of the pudding in the action of eating it (pun intended).

I have spent the last 6 months incessantly researching, reading etc… but I admit I have only had one foot in taking part in the matter.  I am excited to jump in head first to this life style–and watch a steady, holistic transformation.

The farmers markets start next week and I’ve a few locally run eco-friendly grocery stores to try out, up my sleeve.  I would be excited to hear  some stories, tips from others who are taking a step towards a simpler and more eco-friendly lifestyle  or who have been living it for a while.

I know that it will take good planning and  some sacrifices (time, money) to make the change initially.  However, I am confident, that as the change becomes routine the physical, emotional, relational, environmental and spiritual payoff will far outweigh the cost.

Some good resources:

Films:

Killer at Large,  Food Inc.,  No Impact Man, Botany of Desire, Life off the Grid, King Korn.

Books:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan,   Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran-Foyer, The End of Over-Eating by David Kessler, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge, The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert and Five Acres and Independence by M.G. Kains

Food on the Defensive

There are many dilemmas to the Western* way of life and mindset, and to me, a primary problem is the desire to neatly break-down and categorize things that are interconnected.  Another issue of the “Western way,” if you will, is the desire for quick and easy fixes – instant gratification. For example, if someone is struggling with depression, often they will be prescribed an anti-depressant rather than addressing the issue from a holistic approach that examines mind, body, and spirit.

Therefore, I value Michael Pollan’s integrated approach to food. He offers no quick fixes or outrageous promises (“Lose 15lbs in 15 days!”) but he does make a strong case against the Western diet and the food industry and so-called science that supports it.  And, thankfully, he offers an alternative to the Western diet other than subsisting off hunting and gathering.

Pollan emphasizes the need to not only examine what nutrients (vitamins, minerals, calories, grams of fat, sugar, etc) one consumes, but also in what form they are consumed (whole foods, processed foods, canned, peeled, etc), how they are consumed (three main meals, small samplings throughout the day, what order, what speed, etc) and even who they are consumed with (alone, friends, the TV). Then, of course, to examine one’s health we must also take into account their levels of physical activity, role in a community, mental state, spirituality and heredity.

So it’s easy to see why issues of food and health become difficult to study. There are countless variables. Pollan argues that the reductionist scientific method (a prime example of Western modernity) used by many nutritionists have come to erroneous conclusions because of their focus on only one aspect of something as complex as food and health.

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In Defense of Food

Dan and I both just finished this book – In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It was one of those books that captured much of what I’d already been thinking about food, eating and life in general for years. But much of the research and evidence he provides go far beyond merely suggesting yet another fad diet.  Reading this book has helped solidify my new obsession:  providing an alternative to the the Western lifestyle and mindset.

I have so many thoughts swirling around about this book. One of the fascinating things Pollan says is that fine white flour was the original fast food.  And that food is more than the sum of its nutrient parts.

But first:

a) Read In Defense of Food for yourself

b) Join me in investigating more on the subject (I hope to Jonathan Safran Foer & Wendell Barry’s view on the subject pronto).

c) Ask yourself, “What is food?” and “What is eating?” They may seem like stupid questions, until you realize the revolution that’s occurred in recent times regarding these basic and fundamental aspects of daily life.