Friday, January 25, 2008

Discover ?real? food


Despite the awareness and anxiety about health, these are tough times for humans to apply nutritional education to their real lives. Although isolated and synthetic nutrients are being added to processed and packaged foods, Americans are still getting fatter and sicker than ever before in history. The dramatic increase in the incidence of obesity, heart disease and diabetes is a testament to these confused and unnatural food relationships.

Part of the problem is a disrespect for the earth and our bodies. Our relationships with the earth and food are out of order and our ecosystem is crying out for help.

In March 2007, The New York Times and the Detroit News wrote about the mysterious disappearance of honeybees. Earlier this year, the Audubon Society released a report that the numbers of species of birds have plunged by 60 to 80 percent. Tens of millions of the most common birds are disappearing, with speculation of causes including disruptions related to the frequencies of cell phones, genetically modified crops, urban sprawl and rampant pesticide use.

It matters that birds and bees are disappearing because they contribute to the food chain in many more ways than any other animal species. At this point, we have contaminated food and water to maintain artificial systems of farming and genetically modified agriculture.

In his new book "In Defense of Food," Michael Pollan writes, "When the health of one part of the food chain is sick or in some way deficient, so will be the grasses that grow in that soil and the cattle that eat the wheat and the people that drink the milk."

Vast farmlands that are planted with only one crop of corn, soy or wheat are decreasing biodiversity. Biodiversity drives evolution. Monoculture breeds sickness.

Seven out of 10 processed foods these days contain genetically modified ingredients. The top culprits are canola, corn and soy in many sneaky forms. No wonder the nation can't stop eating. We get so little nutrition from these often genetically modified staples in the diet that cells keep searching and eating for some type of wholesome nutrients that it recognizes as food. Big agriculture organized around billion-dollar advertising and food industries, corporate interest and profit has created a nation of big people.

I highly recommend "In Defense of Food." While managing to be a quick read, it touches on fundamental contemporary crises with quick wit and humor that echoes the anxiety and perversity of a fear-filled nation, yet inspires awareness and urges conscious choice in a manageable way. Pollan writes, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Pollan goes on to ask readers to eat recognizable foods, eat at home ("when you cook at home you seldom find yourself reaching for the ethoxylated diglycerides or high-fructose corn syrup") to reclaim sense of order, community and sustainability. By rejecting big agriculture, big pharmaceuticals and big business we work to bring a sense of community, joy and healthy identity to our family meals. It happens with this shift.

Industrial teenage America bent on self-destruction can evolve into conscious, healthy adult America. How fortunate we are to live in this time, with more whole and local foods available to us now than ever before. Consumer consciousness is moving beyond the era of organic Twinkies, organic Wonder Bread, and organic Doritos. As consumers, we have power. The numbers of farmers' markets are on the rise and whole, mineralized, nourishing foods are once again becoming available. Our job is to eat them and feed them to our children.

It's our responsibility to stop hurting the planet and its inhabitants. Reject the factory-farmed pig raised on a diet of grain, hormones, antibiotics, chemicals and other waste products as a suitable breakfast or compassionate practice. Buy organic and buy local— even plant some of your own food and herbs. Be aware of health freedom issues in this upcoming election; there are many.

Nourishing the earth will nourish our bodies, which are essentially little microcosms of earth energy. By re-mineralizing the soil, protecting the water, eating with the season, a sense of health can be reclaimed. It is in our hands. Food links us to the earth, the elements, and respect for our body.

Molly Peppo is a nutrition consultant specializing in restoring bodily health to optimal functioning, through nutrition and muscle testing the body to pinpoint and correct imbalances, chronic illness and weakness.

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