What’s gone wrong with our food?
What’s gone wrong with our food? Why are we so obsessed with nutrients?
For tens of thousands of years we humans were quite happy and quite healthy (and of mostly fairly normal body weight) just eating real whole foods, namely plants and animals.
Then ‘they’ came along and started poking around with microscopes and test tubes and Bunsen burners, and suddenly everything was broken down into science, and eventually they vilified animal fats. So everyone cut out animal fats, and fat was labelled bad, but the finger pointed specifically at saturated fat from animal sources. So people ate less red meat, and they cut out butter and in response the food companies made margarine, and started adding lots of extra sugar (because with no fat, the food tasted bland) and these odd ‘engineered chemical fats and oils’ to various foods. Then after a decade or two eating those, as people got fatter and diabetes and heart disease rates soared, then they changed stance, and now trans fats and cheap vegetable oils are vilified as the baddies, so we should all go back to butter and ditch the margarine.
And the people asked “But we stopped eating animal saturated fats, years ago, because they were bad…right?”
The people wanted to know “what is it that is supposed to be so wrong with animal foods? How come all that research linked high rates of disease to the consumption of animal foods?”
Well, then the paleo crowd came to the rescue, and they explained that it’s modern farming that is to blame. We screwed up animals by making them obese and lazy, pumping them with hormones and antibiotics, and they are mistreated, and abused, and their food is poorly regulated and animals ended up eating other animals of their own species, and bits of pig got in the cow food and they all ended up with BSE. So the answer is, that we can eat meat, just as long as it’s pasture-raised organic meat.
But the people said “I can’t get that where I live, and to get it delivered from 83 miles away it costs an absolute fortune.” But the people saw these shining examples of healthy looking vegetarians, and that seemed like the answer to everything.
The people declared “Aha, so I should be a vegetarian or a vegan, and avoid cheap vegetable oil and margarine, so I’ll use palm oil (what about the orang-utans?) and extra virgin olive oil (but don’t heat it!) and coconut oil (since when did ancestral human populations anywhere but the tropics have access to coconuts?) and then I will be saved from the spectre of cancer and heart disease.”
Yes, perfect, the nutritionally-obsessed scientists think that this should work, providing you meditate daily, attend yoga classes in a heated room, wear a copper bangle, filter your drinking water, avoid plastic bottles, don’t breathe city air, join some kind of peace movement, eat plenty of fresh turmeric, get a regular colonic, dehydrate your own kale chips, make sure you get some pink Himalayan rock salt and ensure you have regular adrenal relief, lymph drainage and get a good liver flush. Hopefully, this way, you’ll be OK and make it to retirement age in one piece. Of course, you won’t have a job to retire from, because this lifestyle can’t possibly work for anyone with a career, as there isn’t enough time, and besides you must get at least 8 hours sleep per night and work is far too stressful anyway, so just ensure your spouse is loaded, or you inherited a great fortune, and then off you go, meditate your way to blissful inner peace.
And the people were happy. They had found nirvana, they purchased broccoli and yoga mats and all seemed well. Until they all crashed out with anaemia, CFS, ME and fibromyalgia.
“Help!!” they cried! “What can I do about my anaemia? My Chinese herbalist and my cranial massage therapist both assure me I am Vitamin B12 deficient, what should I eat? My nails are cracked, I’m tired all the time and my hair is dry and brittle? My skin looks like shite and I have no energy, I passed out in Bikram last week and I have absolutely NO libido at all. Help?!?!?”
The science geeks have answers! “Oh well take these supplements…try a nice broad range B vit, have some supplementary magnesium, lashings of B12, add some selenium, Iron, lots of iron, and don’t forget the anti-oxidants to suck up all those nasty free radicals (why so many free radicals, you eat cleaner than a monk?) Add some nuts (but you MUST remember to soak them! Only an ignorant heathen would eat un-soaked nuts! Fools!), and some seeds, that will up your protein, and sprout these beans, and get these superfoods, they are a bargain at 357 bucks for a month’s supply.”
The people felt understood, they had answers now…it’s all because of the soil today. Even though soil has been on the planet for about 2.5 billion years, since the first microbes came out of the primordial oceans, and spread bacteria over the bedrock, humans have TRASHED the topsoil in just 60 years of industrialized agriculture (actually, we have, to some degree) and that’s why the food is failing us today. Those billions of tons of topsoil, they are producing nutritionally inert plants, and the answer is powdered and in a can or a pill, made in a factory in Indonesia, salvation by chemistry! Hoorah!!
BUT, the people were still REALLY worried that… “if ALL I eat is fruits and vegetables and a few nuts, won’t I be eating all those pesticides, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides?”
“Quite! Indeed you will!” said the science club, “And there is only one answer, you MUST buy ORGANIC, only organic produce can save you from cancer and certain death by chemical overload! And remember to soak those nuts!”
And so this is it, this is how we have now arrived at a place where many well-meaning dieticians and nutritional experts have convinced a generation of health-conscious consumers that the perfect healthy diet is vegan, only organic, includes a few soaked nuts and beans, is high in coconut oil and loaded with expensive supplements. Did I mention raw food? Fruitarian? Breatharian? Earthing? Magnets? Crystals? Alkalizing? Watch out for that sugar molecule, it’s acidic you know!!!! Acid is going to get you!!!!! Aaarrrggghhhh…run, run away and live in the hills!!!!!!!
I have written about this before - Avoiding ‘Diet Perfectionism’ and the trap of crippling inaction
We are going round in circles, and drowning in our own science. While ALL of these arguments are valid to some degree, all supported by some and disproved by others, the real answers are just so much simpler:
- Eat only REAL, WHOLE, fresh, natural foods. Plants and animals. Two thirds of your food from plants, one third from animals. 50/50 calories.
- The big #1 thing to do is to eliminate all the processed, refined food from your diet, and reduce the chemicals in your life (in food, cosmetics, toiletries, household products). If a food product has a list of ingredients…then don’t eat it. Buy organic as much as you can, as budget allows.
- Understand that WE are all different, and we have different genetic make-up inside. Where one person thrives as a vegetarian, another thrives on a diet rich in meat. Avoid meat from factory farming – don’t support animal cruelty, buy free range, pasture raised and organic as much as you can.
- Balance the other factors in your life. Drink plenty of water, spent time outdoors, get fresh air and sunshine. De-stress, live within your means, pay off your debts, spend less on ‘stuff’. Don’t be angry, slow down a little and enjoy life. Love more.
- Exercise. Move. Use your body every day.
That’s it folks.
MotherNaturesDiet – common sense for better living.