Naturally Nourishing: Reconnecting with the 'Real Food' Story
Part I - The Big Food Bluff
“When you control food, you control people.”
Our food 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 so many continue to consume products devoid of nutritional value and laced with a range of harmful ingredients. Now, across the world people are finally awakening to the big food bluff.
Nourishment is the basis of life and of health. The societal disconnect from the source of food is part of our larger cultural story of money and exploitation. Food and health illiteracy is in the interests of and to a large extent sponsored by the financial elite. We have relinquished control of our food to the giant profit driven industries.
A web of mutually serving industries, work together to create a food business that profits off toxicity and blocks accessible healthy nourishment. To understand why billions of people are “choosing” unhealthy food options one needs to look at who benefits from the processed food production line.
A partial list includes:
companies that produce the hormones, antibiotics, GMO’s, pesticides and additives used in the food industry
the pharmaceutical companies who produce the antibiotics and hormones used by animal agriculture and the chemical “fixes” for the diseases caused by the food industry
the researchers and academics who carry out the sponsored research and spread misinformation in scientific language
the plastic and cardboard packaging industries
the diet industries that profit off the confusion
the real estate and infrastructure companies that deal in land and water resources
the lobbyists and politicians who profit from creating laws in favor of the large corporations
the media and advertising industries that specialize in convincing us just how much we need and want these unhealthy products.
The accumulated power of those with vested interests has a powerful grip on our minds, pockets and habits. The propaganda machine works to disconnect people from their intuitive relationship with the land and its vital nourishment.
Food monopolies use their power to undercut small, local organic farmers and to own more land and water resources. Many use a range of genetically modified seeds and dangerous pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. They lobby governments in order to gain larger slices of the market while fighting to conceal the presence of various toxins, GMO’s or the products’ country of origin. In this way, they work together seamlessly to pick our pockets by offering an illusion of choice.
The recent scandals plaguing Monsanto and Nestle reveal some of the ruthless and devastating tactics of the industrialized food industry as it plunders and contaminates the environment. When food aid is sent to war torn or disaster areas at taxpayers’ expense, it is once again the bottled water and genetically modified wheat industries that benefit. All these groups rely on consumer ignorance about the hidden workings of the food industry and its impact on human health and on the environment.
“Western culture is hell-bent on ignoring, disbelieving, and, in some cases, actively twisting the truth about what we should be eating - so much so that it can be hard for us to believe that we’ve been lied to all these years.”
T. Colin Campbell, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
Labeling as it exists today is a sophisticated part of the food narrative designed more to conceal than to provide useful information. Labels enable manipulated sponsored research and marketing to come together in clinching the consumers’ choice.
The marketing industry has usurped terms like “natural” and “green” to describe merchandise that often contain very few organic ingredients and hide a host of toxic materials. Labels highlight the percentage of so called “nutrients” while distracting from the fact that a large percentage of the product has no nutritional value or even negative nutritional value.
The food industry crafts addictive formulas that create cravings, stress the digestive system and endanger different organs. The processed food industry has also created a market for supplements and diet foods. Catering to people’s anxiety about weight has reached the absurd situation where a recent sponsored study suggests that artificially sweetened fizzy drinks like Diet Coke is marketed as better than water for weight reduction.
Myth making is central to the success of the industry and much of it starts with the sponsoring of mainstream nutritional science. The mainstream framework focuses on a recommended daily allowance of specific nutrient groups such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. We are taught about isolated components of food in quantitative terms and scientific jargon, but this tells us nothing about the unique impact of a particular food on our bodies.
The reductionist “scientific” approach that focuses on isolated nutrients and calories lends itself to manipulative marketing and is the basis of many common beliefs that serve the meat, dairy, processed food and supplement industries. The marketing myths skilfully employ obsolete science, flawed logic and misdirection of consumer’s attention.
It uses a pseudo-scientific jargon to generate a confused food culture where people become obsessed with counting food components and calories instead of developing a deep connection with the planet and healthy nature based nourishment.
This sophisticated marketing by intermediaries replaces our intuitive and intimate historic relationship with nourishment, and healthy, age old cultural wisdom about food.
Marketing based on the 'recommended daily allowance' framework:
focuses on quantity of nutrients at the expense of quality.
implies that all protein independent of its origin is equal in value, ignoring the interaction of the different nutrients with each other and with the body.
falsely equates the amount of nutrients in a food with what is actually absorbed by the body
lends itself to manipulative labeling
deceptively suggests that one can get all the nutrients one needs from animal products and other processed foods.
distracts the consumer from the fact that the nutrients in animal food products and processed foods also contain dangerous ingredients and lack the life intelligence found in organic, plant based foods.
The meat and dairy industries have generated some of the most dominant and dangerous myths in the mainstream food narrative. Through their 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.
Animal agriculture has been linked to a range of chronic diseases including heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, allergies, respiratory diseases and even impotence. It 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.
A United Nations Environment Program report emphasizes that a global shift towards a vegan 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 as well as the environment.
Meat industry myths are based on a chain of misleading associations such as: ‘People need protein – meat contains protein – therefore people need meat.’ This false logic skillfully markets the idea that meat products are the only or best source of protein. It also implies that the protein in the meat is the only relevant component that we need to focus on. It neglects to reveal that protein from plants comes with a range of other healthy nutrients and without the baggage of dangerous fats, GMO’s, hormones and antibiotics that comes with meat.
The milk myth has a similar logic: ‘the body needs calcium, milk products are a rich source of calcium therefore the body needs milk.’ This myth neglects to reveal that calcium from animal milk is actually not effectively absorbed by humans and can actually lead to calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.
These stories leads to the familiar industry driven question “Where do vegans get their protein and calcium from?” The question itself is fundamentally misleading. It reinforces the fallacy that basic building blocks of health like protein and calcium are not abundantly available in plants.
Focusing on the nutrient alone and not the source of the nutrient hides the fact that protein and calcium from animals have a completely different impact on the body than protein and calcium derived from plants.
Imagine just how much the deceptive slogan “milk is rich in calcium” is worth in revenue and how many consumers have fallen for this endangering their own health in the process.
Many of the myths are couched in scientific jargon appealing to people’s desire to do what is most healthy. People will often authoritatively quote the myths while understanding very little about what nutrients are and how they function.
The fact that the meat and dairy industries continue to thrive despite the evidence of the devastating impact of animal products on personal and planetary health is a tragic reflection of the massive power of these industries in manipulating mass consciousness.
Vitamin B12 is another key part of the meat mythology. The myth suggests that a meat diet is essential for B12 intake. But this is part of the same reductionist approach to nutrients. Gina Shaw points out that not only vegans but also meat eaters suffer from B12 deficiency and that no foods naturally contain vitamin B12 - neither animal or plant foods. B12, she says, is a microbe, a bacteria, that it is produced by microorganisms and is synthesized in the gut. Some link the B12 deficiency to the depletion of nutrients in agricultural soil. Shaw suggests that a deficiency is linked to an imbalance in the gut and that can be caused by antibiotics (from the drugs themselves and those contained in milk and meat), alcohol, smoking and stress.
It seems the vitamin story is far more complicated than we are led to believe.
The B12 issue is a good example of how the food supplement industry appeals to people’s health aspirations and markets “nutrients” disconnected from their source.
“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
“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
Science has been abused to play a sinister role in the food industry. It has been used to develop and give legitimacy to dangerous products.
Chemical and biological contaminants obstruct nature’s communication pathways and have severely depleted our immune systems. Science has been used to convince consumers of the benefits of chemical and processed products, while undermining Mother Nature’s rich nutrition, often implying that the benefits of an organic plant based diet are doubtful as they have not yet been scientifically proven.
Part 2 - The Awakening: A ‘Real Food’ Movement
Healthy nutrition for all requires reclaiming access to clean land and water, organic regenerative agriculture as well as massive public education about the infinite wisdom of nature’s pure nourishment.
As people become increasingly informed about the dangerous role the processed food industries are playing, they are reclaiming their own responsibility for the food they consume.
The vegan movement is growing rapidly across the globe and animal activists are revealing the atrocities of the animal agriculture industry and the impact industry has on climate change.
Veganism in itself is only the first part of the answer, as veganism points to what one should not eat for ethical and health reasons but does not offer the foundations of what one should eat.
Grass roots movements are forming across the globe, spreading information about healthy plant based diets and how to grow and prepare deeply nutritious food. Other movements are taking on governments and corporations to reclaim the right to clean air, water, and soil as well as the right to affordable, accessible healthy nourishment.
As people across the world reclaim their right to healthy food, activists and protestors are leading campaigns against the meat, dairy, sugar and other processed food industries as well as demanding an end to companies like Monsanto and Nestle.
People are protesting the pollution of air, land, ocean and inland waters - the very foundations of healthy nourishment, and leading legal campaigns to hold governments and corporations responsible for the health consequences of their actions. There is increasing demand that foods are accurately labelled and that media curtails its advertising of unhealthy products in general and especially campaigns aimed at children. Truthful Investigative journalism on food issues is gaining momentum and social media groups that are spreading this information are flourishing.
Activist groups, are also finding creative ways to defy the dynamic of dependence on government and the profit industries. They are providing knowledge and skills to enable people to have access to healthy organic products and initiating projects in schools and community centers and lobbying politicians for support.
Organizations like Overgrow the System, and Food is Free are working to create food forests in urban areas and encourage people to grow and share food in community agriculture projects. Green businesses are following suit and are offering innovations to enable growing food in small spaces and on roof-tops. Those working for the common good are combining age-old wisdom with modern technology in exciting ways. Every day social media is filled with information about new breakthroughs in regenerative agriculture and in bringing clean water, solar energy and healthy technology to rural areas that have been damaged by the growth economy. Municipalities are joining this trend. Paris has recently created a law to encourage roof-top gardens. Collectors of heirloom seeds are collaborating to ensure their long- term availability.
These “green” movements have been side-lined by mainstream politics but have persisted on the fringes of society. As the current system implodes these movements are gaining momentum despite the efforts of the large companies to inhibit their activity.
Part 3 - So what is healthy nourishment?
"Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food"
The new nourishing food story recognizes nature’s fundamentally nourishing intelligence as the key to thriving people and thriving ecosystems.
The principles of a healthy diet is much simpler than we may believe. It does not involve obsessive counting of calories and isolated nutrients. Instead, as Professor Campell suggests, the most important factors in a healthy diet lies in eating a diverse, organic, whole, plant based food, and avoiding all processed foods.
The varied, organic plant based diet has been shown not only to increase health and vitality but to reverse a range of modern diseases and even promises to contribute to the healing of the environment. The more we eat directly from nature’s living wisdom, the more aligned and healthy we will be.
“The ideal human diet looks like this: Consume plant-based foods in forms as close to their natural state as possible (“whole” foods). Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and whole grains. Avoid heavily processed foods and animal products. Stay away from added salt, oil, and sugar. Aim to get 80 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat, and 10 percent from protein.” T. Colin Campbell, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
As Campbell points out “the whole of nutrition is far more than the sum of the parts”. The emphasis is reconnecting to food directly from nature in a more honoring, aligned and intuitive way.
It seems obvious that a diet based on direct nourishment from nature’s abundant seasonal pantry, grown in healthy soil and on which other species thrive, would be the diet healthiest for our own digestive system. Given our current learned dependence on science and disconnect from our intuition, we now also have ample scientific evidence to confirm that indeed, a diverse, whole, organic, plant based diet is the healthiest and can prevent and cure many diseases. More and more doctors and nutritionists are aligning themselves with these principles. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine offers what they call the power plate recommendations based on a healthy plant based diet.
As we move in beyond reductionist science to a more holistic understanding of the world and attend to the subtle vibrational dimension we also learn more and more about the vibrational wisdom of food. Learning about food in a truly nourishing way includes attending to the unique vibration of the food and its impact on the different organs of the body.
Healthy nourishment involves healing our relationship to the essence of nourishment itself. It means recognizing that true nourishment is far more than a means for survival or pleasure. It means recognizing the vibration of nourishment as the source of life and vitality and as such cultivating a deeply honoring relationship with it.
Nourishment is energy, and energy is information. Life is organized according to the fundamental principle of accurate mutual nourishment among all parts of our interconnected whole. Every part of a healthy ecosystem from the micro to the macro is designed to take in, transmute and transmit information. Accurate mutual nourishment is the source of our energy and our health. It is the wisdom from which we have strayed and the place of peace and vitality to which we may return.
The code of accurate mutual nourishment animates life in such a way that each unique part of the interconnected ecosystem receives precisely what it needs in order to manifest its unique potential to in turn nourish the environment that sustains it. It is the code of sacred relationship that ensures balance and vitality. It is the resonant relationship of receiving and giving with gratitude in a way that ensures the thriving of harmony in diversity. What is waste to one part of the system is the nourishment of another.
We have disconnected our own nutrition from this life code, and true healing will entail reconnecting to the exquisite, vital intelligence of healthy mutual nourishment found in thriving eco-systems.
Healthy nourishment entails the health of the entire ecosystem. Because our healthy nourishment is interdependent, when we reconnect to the principles of accurate mutual nourishment and work together to cultivate it, we will set in motion a powerful healing vortex that will eliminate many of the human and environmental imbalances that are threatening life on the planet.
Imagine if we shifted from systems based on power to systems based on accurate mutual nourishment.
An integrative approach to nutrition attends not only to the spectrum of nutrients available in food but also to their symbiotic and synergistic qualities with each other and their impact on, and interaction with different functions of the body.
The approach is inspired by ancient wisdom as well as modern science. It advocates the sage use of scientific information as well as age-old wisdom in the cultivation, preparation, consumption and waste management of the food we eat.
"Absorption and organization of sunlight, the essence of life, takes place almost exclusively within the plants. The organs of the plant are therefore, a kind of biological accumulation of light. They are the basis of what we call food, whence animal and human bodies derive their substance and energy. Nutritional energy may thus be termed organized sunlight energy. Hence sunlight is the driving force of the cells of our body."
Dr. Bircher-Benner,The Essential Nature and Organization of Food Energy, 1936
While eating a diverse plant based diet does not require a vast amount of knowledge to ensure its health benefits, learning about food from a more holistic vibrational perspective opens gateways to infinite wisdom about the nourishing and medicinal qualities of plants.
Before science came into being, humans were familiar with most of the nourishing and healing qualities of plants. In fact many modern pharmaceutical patents are inspired by this ancient wisdom.
The Matsés peoples of Brazil and Peru, have created a 500-page encyclopaedia of their traditional medicine. They have written it only in their native language to ensure the knowledge will not be stolen and abused by pharmaceutical companies as has been done in the past.
These tribes do not suffer from Western diseases and have plant based medicine to address the ailments they encounter. So how did they learn this without labs and technology?
Traditional knowledge is to a large extent gained from attending to the vibrational qualities of existence. People for instance learn about unique healing and nutritional qualities of different foods by attending to the colors, scents, tastes, shapes and textures of food and by noticing the impact on their own energy fields and bodies. They develop an intimate relationship with the natural world, noticing the conditions in which plants grow and how animals interact with them. Traditional wisdom recognizes plants as ‘teachers’ and has developed practices for receiving communication directly from the plants. This deeply intuitive research is the foundation of much of their accumulated wisdom.
The holistic vibrational approach recognize that what is important is not only what we do with our food, but also our attitude towards it and the energy with which we engage with it. When we eat in a stressed, hurried and unconscious way we are less likely to receive the benefits than when we eat in an honoring, conscious and grateful way. When we chew the food well, we are more likely to benefit from the generous nutrients than when we swallow it hurriedly.
Dr Masaru Emoto, a well-known Japanese researcher has shown how water responds to human consciousness. He photographed water crystals of water that had been exposed to different words, pictures and sounds. He found that water that was exposed to the vibration of gratitude had a particularly beautiful formation, while crystals from water that were exposed to negative and violent vibrations had more chaotic, asymmetrical and less harmonious formations.
Given that we are made up of a large percentage of water, one can imagine from this the impact of our consciousness on our bodies. Much of our food is also made up of water, so it follows that when we engage with food with gratitude the food is likely to be digested in more harmonious ways. The ancient spiritual practice of blessing and thanking food takes on new meaning.
Imagine the impact of a holistic approach to food as part of the core educational curricula in schools. Teaching children to grow and prepare their own food in a holistic way would not only cultivate healthy eating habits, it would give them training for ecologically driven professions that are more in demand as food security becomes a global concern.
Learning holistically about nourishment would give children the tools to think critically about food advertisements and make them more discerning consumers. It would give greater food security and independence from big corporations. It would teach them to honor the land that nourishes them and cultivate greater appreciation and care for the earth. These are probably the precise reasons why this kind of education is not offered in schools and exactly why it is so essential for the future of people and planet.
A core part of healing people and planet involves reclaiming the knowledge and tools to become independent of government and the large corporations. A food revolution is a political and economic revolution. It is a revolution of education and of culture. The key is in supporting those pioneers bringing the awareness and tools for organic food independence to schools and communities across the globe.
What can possibly be more important than a global health revolution that puts healthy nutrition at its core? When we divest from fossil fuels and animal-agriculture and invest ONLY in green energy and organic plant-based agriculture, we will stimulate a new healing economy and set in motion a healing vortex for many of the global crises we currently face. Only through honoring the principles of healthy nourishment in healthy ecosystems will we be able to heal and revitalize the planet.
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