Part 2 - Health: The Primary Casualty
Nourishment - The Basis of Life
Nourishment is the basis of life. The societal disconnect from the source of food is part of our larger cultural story of money and exploitation. We have relinquished control of our food to profit driven industries and governments at the expense of our health and that of the environment.
Our food, the primary source of our health, has been hijacked by a vast profit machine that invests billions to control consumer’s choices and habits. Processed foods and pesticides are contributing to serious chronic diseases and environmental destruction, yet billions of people continue to consume products devoid of nutritional value and laced with a range of harmful ingredients. To understand why so many are “choosing” unhealthy options one needs to look at the chain of industries that benefit from the processed food production line.
The food propaganda machine works to disconnect people from their intuitive and inherited relationship with the land. Food monopolies use their power to undercut small, local organic farmers and to own more and more land and water resources in a spiral of control and deception. Many use a range of genetically modified seeds and dangerous pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
The food industries lobby governments in order to gain larger slices of the market while fighting to conceal the presence of various toxins, GMO’s or the country of origin of products. In this way, they work together seamlessly to pick consumer pockets by offering an illusion of choice.
Big agriculture industries, like Monsanto are notorious for their use of dangerous pesticides in food, genetic modification of plants and their strategy to patent and own essential seeds and withhold information about the ingredients. Chemical and biological contaminants obstruct nature’s communication pathways and have severely depleted our individual and collective immune system.
People living in urban environments are increasingly distanced from the source of their food and dependent on industrialized products largely controlled by a few major corporations. Supermarkets are filled with processed foods that travel vast distances before reaching the shelves. Local farming is being pushed aside by food giants that use dangerous chemical additives to prolong shelf life. The sugar and wheat industries inundate the public with seductive messaging of comfort foods, while actively spreading addiction and disease. Junk food is sold cheaper than real food to make it even more attractive and accessible.
Mainstream nutritional information is based on obsolete reductionist science that focuses on certain individual nutrients such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins. A holistic nutritional approach shows however that:
“Most nutrients are known to interact symbiotically with at least eight other nutrients. This makes the odds of supplying any one individual nutrient in a healthful manner infinitesimally small. It is simply impossible to get the dosage and ratio correct, except through the consumption of whole foods.” Douglas Graham
Food and health illiteracy is in the interests of and to a large extent sponsored by those at the helms of the interwoven industries that run the economy. Schools do not teach children about healthy nutrition or how to grow and prepare food. In the absence of real education about food and health, advertising becomes the key source of information. But advertisements are designed to sell products irrespective of their health consequences. Diet related illnesses, chronic diseases and disorders, such as heart disease, cancers, diabetes, obesity, anorexia and bulimia are symptoms of the corrupt and profit driven food industry.
Advertising based on reductionist sponsored science creates a culture of consumers addicted to unhealthy foods and obsessed with counting calories and isolated nutrients.
The food industry has in turn generated food supplement and diet industries that use similar tactics.
“These days, the supplement industry has the process down to a “science.” New scientific research on single nutrients generalizes in a very superficial way about their ability to promote human health. Companies put these newly discovered “nutrients” into pills, organize public relations campaigns, and write marketing plans to encourage a confused public to buy.” (T. Colin Campbell, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition)
The reductionist picture of food is a product of the same mindset of separateness from which democracy itself is derived. It focuses on isolated phenomena and less on their relationship with each other and on their whole system impact.
The animal agriculture industry has generated some of the most dominant and dangerous myths in the mainstream food narrative. Through its marketing we have been indoctrinated to believe that consuming milk and flesh of animals is healthy and desirable. Marketing campaigns have also successfully obscured the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the planet.
Factory farmed meat and dairy has been linked to a range of chronic diseases including heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, allergies, respiratory diseases and even impotence. The animal agriculture industry is also known to be a leading cause of greenhouse-gas emissions, water waste, water pollution, ocean dead zones, deforestation, habitat destruction and species extinction that each significantly impacts the climate.
The meat and dairy industries invest huge sums to market apparent health of their products despite the fact that factory farmed foods are known to be toxic and cause chronic disease. People that eat animal products are ingesting a cocktail of dangerous chemicals, growth hormones and antibiotics as well as the trauma and suffering of animals held in extremely unnatural and inhumane conditions.
A United Nations Environment Program report emphasizes that a global shift towards a plant based diet is vital to save the world from hunger, poverty and the worst impacts of climate change. Despite all of this people continue to consume animal agriculture products and damage their own health and that of the environment.
The consequences of our current relationship to food is devastating. In the same way that food policies are a crucial factor in disease creation, healing of people and planet requires a radical shift in our relationship to food, to agriculture and to the land itself.