As humans, we are the beneficiaries of many gifts. Nature has provided us with three sacred blessings to sustain human life: food, water and air. But none is more profound than the gift of food.
Our contamination of these gifts is a sad commentary on our values. There is no single better example of how the seduction of modern culture has pulled us away from a healthy relationship with our planet than our attitudes about what we choose to eat. We take food in, and it miraculously transforms into life -- our life. Without food, we die; with it, we create who we are. It's that simple.
Our ability to make productive changes to the growing, manufacturing and producing of food will allow us to clearly re-establish the connection between us, our health and our planet. That reconnection will be the catalyst that wakes us up and sets our feet on another path -- a path to health and wellness.
The economic and environmental impact of modern food choices is inescapable. When we disrupt the relationship between the earth and us, the impact affects everything about life on this planet. Upsetting this relationship is catastrophic as we have seen with both human and planetary health.
And we can't wait... not for big government, big healthcare, big science or any other social institution to ride to our rescue. The issue of our health and healthy food is too important, too essential to be left in the hands of bloated bureaucracy. Science, medicine, big business are all part of the problem that disconnected us from our food and nature in the first place. There is no cavalry on the horizon. We are the cavalry and we better mount up.
It's simple. We need to consume food that results in health and vitality. Our needs for protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals have not changed much over the last centuries; the way the human body assimilates food hasn't changed much either. So the question that begs to be asked is: why is there so much uncertainty about what to eat?
In my humble opinion, we have lost sight of what food is... what it does... the impact of the gift it is to humanity. Beside the air we breathe, can you think of anything that has a greater effect on human health than food (and water)?
Our intestinal tract is a complex and vital environment that consists of consumed foods, enzymes, bacteria and digestive juices produced by the body, along with colonies of micro-organisms known as intestinal flora. The function of this complex system is to break down our food so that it can be absorbed and used by the body. The bacteria that thrive in our intestines synthesize vitamins, ferment carbohydrates, utilize sugars, convert protein and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause disease.
What we eat supports this complex eco-system... or it does not.
Human beings are complex organisms that go way beyond the physical, extending into our cultural, environmental and spiritual lives. We have the capacity to travel the world and adapt to any climate, geography and culture. We group together in a myriad of ways, forming societies and views of the world as different as snowflakes. Each of us has a unique interaction with the world around us.
In ancient traditions, people thought of eating as sacred; cooking was an art, also sacred. They understood the impact food had on every aspect of the human experience. We think of the past as primitive and uneducated, when in fact, we may have lost, in our modern experience, a deep wisdom that came with nourishing the human body with real food; food fit for human consumption.
Today, we eat food that's like something out of science fiction fantasy. It has little or no connection with the food of our ancestors; the food that nourished generations of humans, each of which lived in a way that created longevity. Each generation enjoyed more years of life as we developed a better understanding of sanitation, fresh water, shelter and food.
But this young generation of children we are raising into adulthood will be the first one not to live as long as its parents. And if the statistics hold true, it will also be the beginning of a trend that shortens the lives of each subsequent generation.
If nothing changes... if we continue to squander the gift of food.
Food creates our humanity. What we choose to eat determines the quality of that humanity. A society that nourishes itself on processed junk food is a society that produces, creates and is...junk. A society that nourishes itself on whole, unprocessed food; food as Mother Nature created it (not Monsanto, not Kraft or some other monolithic food corporation) is a society that respects all living things... the planet and the life on it.
I don't know about you, but I am weary of the constant worry that has become the day to day life of most Americans... the concern over becoming one of the diseased statistics that makes headlines. It saddens me that we can't enjoy life fully because either we don't feel well or we are worried about getting sick.
Wouldn't it be nice to live free of the specter of disease? We can... if only we learn to appreciate and respect the gift of food.