Here we talk about food: how it can make us sick or make us well…but not just well, food can transform us through a process of healing. We’ll also talk about the issues tied up in our food system. You can’t have a conversation about healing foods without considering the ethics of food production. As luck would have it, the foods most loved by our bodies are also the ones which are gentle on the earth. Funny how that works.
You know, loads of people know they could eat healthier and think they should do something about it. Maybe you’re one of them. I felt that way too, so I did something about it. A few years ago I attended the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City to become a trained chef in health-supportive cuisine. This means I’ve been taught to cook beautiful food that nurtures and heals the body (and the soul, I must add). Since then I’ve been working in professional kitchens, to improve my technique and skill, and learning all I can about the impact that food has on the human body. Turns out it’s a major one.
From Eaters to Addicts
You may have heard that chronic disease, autoimmune disorders, digestive illness and obesity rates are going nowhere but up. Ever stopped to ponder why? What in this country has undergone the most drastic changes within the last several decades? It’s our food system. Small-scale family owned farms have been replaced by mega farms focused on quantity and convenience rather than quality. It’s becoming less and less common for a meal served in the home to have been cooked there, more the norm that a corporation (or two…or four) had a mega hand in it. And the corporate recipes for those meals? Laden with refined sugars, refined grains, sodium, way too much animal protein, and the wrong kinds of fats. Oh, and then there’s all those artificial ingredients and weird chemicals that no normal person stocks in his or her pantry. Basically it’s a recipe to ensure we’re fat, tired, and sick but inexplicably craving more of those processed foods. That’s right, the food industry’s recipes are intentionally formulated to addict their consumers.
There are people working for the food industry who get paid to understand terms like product “craveability”, which guarantees that consumers experience an all but irresistible desire for more. Then there’s “bliss point”, defined as that moment after you bite into a food product, a candy bar for instance, and your brain’s feel-good hormones explode in pleasure. Problem is, about an hour later your blood sugar is crashing from all those refined carbohydrates, so naturally your body wants another hit. Here’s the catch: it takes even more of that candy bar the second time around to reach the same high — I mean “bliss point”, we are still talking food…I think — as the first time. You better believe those food industry people create their recipes with all this in mind. I believe that food, real food, is medicine. And with that understanding I can’t help but think of industrial foodstuff as drugs. Bit alarming, isn’t it?
Besides making us crave more and more, the processed food so favored by the food industry is good at a few other things: depleting our bodies of vitamins and minerals, initiating and increasing inflammation, destroying digestive health, burning out insulin supplies, slowing metabolism, forcing our bodies to store fat, destroying sexual drive, promoting depression, accelerating ageing, feeding cancerous genes…basically anything that flings the door wide open for chronic disease and unhappiness. But that’s just how this “food” is noticeably affecting us in personal ways. Unfortunately, the devastating consequences of our food supply reach far beyond our immediate bodies.
For one, Big Agriculture and food manufacturers are wasteful businesses that run on inconceivable amounts of water and fuel. Did you know, if every single person in the world were to make efforts to conserve water at home, we’d only be affecting 5% of the planet’s water use? Thanks mainly to crop irrigation, agricultural use is responsible for 75% of global water consumption. Most of the crops in the U.S. are grains destined for the mouths of livestock, not humans. Doesn’t seem like an efficient use of water to me. Did you know, if every single person in the United States were to drastically reduce our meat intake, it would have a greater effect than taking all the automobiles off the road? That’s how much fuel is burned by the meat industry alone. Then there’s all the atrocities of the meat industry. Animals who live short, dirty, unnatural, miserable lives all for the sake of our tables. Their reality is mostly tucked away behind closed doors and high walls, making it so convenient to tuck away any responsibility for action on their behalf to the back of our minds.
Unfortunately, these are only a few of the problems created by the food systems of the developed world. The food industry would have us think our only choice is to accept their “advancements”, for we’d be hungry and helpless without them.
This simply is not true.
Let’s talk solutions.
This is where Homemade Wellness comes in. Much as they’d like to keep it quiet, we do have choices alternative to industrial food. Those choices start within the home. The first and simplest step is to cook more. It will always be healthier to eat something homemade than something manufactured by a corporation. So expect lots of recipes. Next, we choose ingredients which are better for us. Now that you’re cooking for yourself it’s time to make sure you’re selecting the nourishing foods which your body needs and craves. This is the fun part where we’ll explore loads of flavors and inspiration for culinary creativity. Of course, to recognize healing ingredients we must inform ourselves of the origins of our food. Respect for all the ecosystems, including land, laborers, and animals, involved in the food chain will come to the forefront of our conversations. We’ll find ourselves questioning and discussing mainstream knowledge of food and nutrition. It should be no surprise by now that things aren’t always what they’re advertised. That’s what Homemade Wellness has to offer, a delicious and healing alternative to what’s advertised. One that starts in your home. I hope you’re game to take part.
So here we go. No labels, no gimmicks, no trends. Just good, nourishing food.
J. Morris Hicks, Healthy Eating Healthy World
Dr. Mark Hyman, It’s Not Your Fault You Are Fat
Lee Fulkerson, dir., Forks Over Knives
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