With each New Year we resolve …to get fit, be healthy, get more sleep, work less, love more. Each year, we drop these commitments by the wayside within weeks…right about now, usually. We are overwhelmed with information, statistics, science and bad news…many tainted by interests that have little to do with health and wellness.
Can we separate the issues of public health and special interests so we can have access to advice that is without influence and potential profit-making? Can we recognize the ways in which corporate lobbyists corrupt our food systems and do something about it . . . in the ballot box, at the supermarket, demanding better from the people and agencies charged with the nation’s and the planet’s well-being?
We say we are tired of junk food; tired of the lies and deceit in advertising; we blame corporate America for making us overweight and sick with the products they create and market to our families and to us.
But we continue to buy processed foods and the more of it that we can get for our dollar, the happier we are. We have stopped considering quality and look for the biggest sizes. I am not out of touch or elitist. I know that we can buy more calories of processed foods than of fresh whole foods and in some cases that is an absolute necessity if we are to feed our families.
In my view, we need to begin to see the price tag attached to that processed food and find a way, as a society, to make fresh food accessible to all of us, not the privileged few. How? Demand feeds supply. If we demand better and stop buying junk food, they will make what we want . . . so they can sell us something.
It’s up to us now, regardless of the economy. If we were serious about solving the ills of the world, we would begin to live life as though it mattered every minute of every day. This may sound simplistic in the face of the complicated issues we face, but simple is good and action is essential if we are to survive what we have created.
Imagine how the world could change if we just ate (as Michael Pollan says) real food, not too much, mostly plants; if we showed compassion to all beings; if we stopped buying worthless junk we didn’t need and realized that without clean air and water we are lost. I have a strong feeling that everything would change . . . fast.
There is a lot of confusion about what’s healthy and what’s not. But there’s little doubt that by listening to misleading advertising focused on individual ingredients or nutrients rather than the food as a whole will only lead us further astray. Labels like “great source of calcium,” or “can help lower cholesterol” distract us from the truth of what’s in the package.
It’s time to get back in touch with real food so we can enjoy real health.
In a nutshell, the easiest way to health and wellness is to focus on whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. These would be foods that are as close to their original state as possible, grown and nurtured the way Mother Nature intended, without the use of chemical enhancements.
Whole, unprocessed foods contain a concentration of nutrients that work together synergistically; they are superior to anything food science and chemistry can come up with.
Natural food is elegant in its simplicity; delicious in its flavor, and completely nurturing to us as humans. It’s what we are meant to consume. It doesn’t need disguises or dancing fairies to “sell” us the idea of it.
When you walk down the street and see a vegetable garden, lush with life, does it need a dancing clown to take your breath away? Aren’t you instinctively drawn into the natural beauty and life before your eyes? Think of how you feel in a farm market surrounded by bins of fresh food. Happy Meals could never make you this happy.
Natural foods are kissed by the sun; nourished by the rain, wind, and soil; and are rich, concentrated sources of the nutrients we need to thrive as humans . . . all wrapped in delicious flavors and textures. But broccoli tastes like broccoli, not ranch dressing, so natural foods may take a bit of getting used to because we have waded so deeply into the sea of artificially enhanced flavors.
Whole grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit, herbs, and spices come together to create the perfect nourishment for humanity.
Marketing has changed our relationship with food and works hard to seduce us into believing that every day is a reason to indulge. We work hard; we deserve this; we’re worth it and it would be s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o easy to just pick up the phone; call Domino’s, and go comatose in front of the television again. The way we eat in our modern world is like an out-of-control party where everyone is passed out on the floor. We’re not having any fun anymore, but we are so used to it that normal eating seems grim and deprived when it’s anything but.
The cause of most of our ills is simple. We want more than we can have and marketing has promised we can have it. But reality and marketing are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The rise in degenerative disease; the degradation of the planet; the increase in obesity comes down to the fact that our bad habits are taking their toll.
Changing the way we live and eat is the single most important ingredient in creating a healthy society and a future in which we thrive. We can no longer live in denial of the implications of our actions, divorced from the source of our amusements and indulgences. We must step into the light and take back our health and our future.