Information for Transformation
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Natural Healing With Food
Cooking and eating good food are the cornerstones of human civilization, our daily reward for all the hard work and innumerable difficulties of life. Like it or not, what we eat has consequences for us and for the world. Dinner is not something that just magically appears on our plates. Eating is the most intimate relationship we have with the environment. In ordering a burger or making a salad, we are inextricably linked to the land, cycles of rain and sunshine, farmers and farmworkers, compost or chemicals, processing facilities and slaughterhouses, truck drivers and miles of highway, co-ops or corporations--to a whole web of ecological and human activity. What you eat affects the well-being of many other lifeforms. Not so long ago, we knew where most of our food came from: from the garden, or from local farmers. But now the components of our dinner likely have traveled thousands of miles to reach our table. Not just tropical foods like bannanas, coffee, and tea--we're shipping even the basics: potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, meats, and greens, not to mention boxed and canned goods.
In August 1971, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published An Evaluation of Research in the United States on Human Nutrition; Report No. 2, Benefits from Nutrition Research. The U.S. government spent approximately $30 million analyzing the relationship diet has to disease. According to the study:
* Major health problems are diet related;
* Benefits would be shared by all...especially by lower economic and non-white population groups;
* Major benefits are long range... Early adjustments of diet could prevent the development of undesirable long-range effects;
* There exist geographical, regional differences in diet-related problems.
It's now known that within a very short time after its release, all copies of the report were seized by the federal government. It was not until the campaign in 1933-94 for the Dietary Health Education and Supplement Act that a copy was mysteriously forwarded to the grassroots organization, Citizens for Health, to help in its fight to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from classifying food supplements as drugs.
Within any group that seeks control and power over a population, even health is a legitimate target. If you can manipulate the population's health or induce disease by modifying what they consume, you can create a pseudo healthcare system that seems to care but is busy making billions off disease that is relatively easy to prevent or cure through diet alone. With the multimillion-dollar backing of an industry, you can also discredit any alternative to current, popularly accepted treatments by labeling them "old wives' tales," "quackery" or "unscientific."
In 1988, The Surgeon-General's Report on Nutrition and Health addressed the overwhelming evidence of the connection between diet and chronic disease. In his report, then Surgeon-General C. Everett Koop wrote: "For the two out of three adult Americans who do not smoke and do not drink excessively, one personal choice seems to influence long-term health prospects more than any other: what we eat... The weight of this evidence and the magnitude of the problem at hand indicate that it is now time to take action. In the cause of good health for all citizens, I urge support for this Report's recommendations by every sector of American society."
While we've come to expect all foods to be available year round, the costs of this is staggeringly high. Consider heavy chemical use on distant megafarms, the nutrition and taste lost during long-distance travel, and the amount of fuel burned along the way. When people choose organic local foods and avoid mass-produced and fast foods, they are voting for a sustainable future and against a system that destroys human health, local communities, traditional ways of life, and the environment. Marketers now receive 67% of profits in the food business while farmers receive 9%. Even though don't want to acknowledge the scene behind a serving of factory farm meat: an animal stuffed into a tiny cage, living in its own excrement (which is then flushed into a nearby stream), pumped with antibiotics and hormones, slaughtered by a poorly paid worker in a factory notorious for on-the-job injuries, doused in a chemical bath, and then shipped to a faraway supermarket or fast-food restaurant, it affects your health, environment, and the social fabric of the planet. We can re-create the world three times a day. We can responsibly shape a different future for our children, for farm-workers, the landscape, wildlife, villages around the world, and genetic diversity. Being responsible also means better health and better-tasting food you can enjoy with a greater sense of joy. Though we're loading up on calories, we're starved for ritual, leisure and pleasure.
Just as the American farm has been transformed in recent years, so has dinnertime. It's not just what food we are eating, but also how we eat our food. Not so long ago, humanistic values were instilled, more than anyplace else, at the dinner table. Familes eating together passed on values such as courtesy, kindness, generosity, thrift, respect, and reverence for the goodness of nature. Joy is missing in most households, where time-stressed people wolf down microwaved dinners or frequent fast food drive-through windows. Breaking bread has become refueling, and it's often a solitary activity. Polls reveal that in the United States today, 57% of the nation's children don't regularly share meals with their families. One insidious reason why has been television. Of the families who do eat together, a high percentage do so with the television on. The family meal has also been hurt by the turn toward "convenience" foods at the same time a new econiomic order has devalued the role of women in the home. Fast foods, microwaves, dehydrated foods put a premium on speed. Speed is the enemy of the ethical preparation and eating of food. It dishonors food and dishonors us. We have to make time for our food. But perhaps our greatest challenge is working to get our kids to join us at the dinner table. Teaching children to eat food together is the best way to teach them to open up their senses and use them. When children learn to use their senses, it improves their ability to communicate--not just about food, but about everything else and they grow up to be wiser, happier people. If all of us were to encourage our local schools to start programs in gardening and eating, we could have an impact. Kids have to be taught that fresh, nourishing food is their birthright--that all, not just the rich, are entitled to wholesome, honest food.
Humans haven't changed much in 40,000 years--but, especially in the West, their diet has. Even the development of agriculture 10,000 years ago has apparently had minimal effect on our genes. The foods now available might be modern and industrial, but our stomachs are still in the hunting-and-gathering stage. Even recently, the system that delivers food to our table is far different from the days when Farmer Brown trucked his sweet corn, pears, and eggs to town. It's changed radically over the past 25 years as family farms have been displaced by huge operations that depend on intensive chemical use, minimum-wage workers, and industrial facilities such as animal confinement buildings. This same period has also seen the rise of the natural food business, offering us healthier and more evironmentally sustainable alternatives. Originally, we consumed 21% of our total dietary energy from fats, 34% from protein, and 45.7 grams of fiber. Numerous studies show that when more primitive populations swithched to a Western diet, they start dying of heart attacks. But the main difference between what they were eating and what we're eating is not meat or fats but whole foods. The culprit is the wholesale adulteration, or "dismembering," of everything we put in our mouths. This includes the addition of refined sugar, which increased blood fats and lowered the strength of the immune system.
Many species of animals once inhabiting the Earth have met with complete extinction due to adverse environmental conditions. Today, it is with their own hands that humans are creating such adverse conditions and will one day eliminate themselves from the the Earth. The process of food degeneration creates an exact, paralleled increase in the variety and frequency of genetic mutations and various diseases. Soon, people will die of heart disease, cancer, or unnatural activities prior to reaching the age of puberty and will not have the opportunity to sexually reproduce. Based on the speed at which these diseases have proliferated during the last few decades, if humans persist in this folly, that day may not be far off. Today, the average male takes in 14.1% of his dietary energy from protein and 37.6% from fats, with only 390 milligrams of cholesterol and 24.9 grams of fiber. By modern-day standards, cavemen should have been dropping like flies. But clearly, fat is a very small part of the story. One of the results of modern agribusiness, with its domestication of animals, birds, and fish, is a substantial lowering of our consumption of essential fatty acids, which we now know are vital to a healthy immune system. Intensive livestock farming of pigs and chickens in particular, where the animals are kept indoors in overcrowded conditions, is associated with nutrient deficiencies of these animals.
Food processing and refining techniques further compromise nutrient content, as do intensive farming techniques which result in soil demineralization. Agrochemicals and other environmental pollutants find their way into the food chain, and further disrupt the nutrient value of the foods and stress our detoxification mechanisms. The food industries have used a variety of methods over the years to both encourage and meet the demand for convenience. As well as processing food to simplify the task of preparation and cooking, considerable effort has gone into developing techniques to preserve or extend the shelf life of food. These techniques have included cooking, salting, drying, bottling, canning, packaging, smoking, chilling, freezing, dehydrating, and using chemical additives. The main aim has been to extend the time that food can remain in storage, in transport, or in the stores before it is sold to the customer, and the time s/he can keep it at home before it goes "bad." No system for preserving food is 100% perfect. Processing and storage inevitably results in some loss of nutrients that are needed to maintain health. Many additives are not used for preservation, but for cosmetic or economic reasons, making the food look attractive, but disguising a lack of nutritional value. A number of those officially approved as "safe" have been shown to be hazardous to human health. Others cause acute reactions in particular individuals that suggest a cause for concern, not just for the susceptible group, but perhaps, for the whole population. Workers who handle these chemicals, in much larger quantities than those consumed by the public, can and do suffer health damage from breathing and handling these additives.
These workers are the guinea pigs, on whom we can observe just how hazardous some of the additives are. Many of the studies in which such chemicals were safety-tested on animals have been found to be poorly conducted or, in some cases, downright fraudulent. The demand for high-quality food has expanded far beyond the "health-food" lobby where it began. It goes beyond those who can afford to buy into alternative lifestyles. It is being reflected in the policies of leading supermarket chains that now insist their suppliers provide additive-free alternatives to many common processed goods. Public school boards have set standards for their suppliers in order to provide a more healthy diet for school pupils. National governments are advocating gradual, but significant, dietary change as a way of combating some of the killer diseases of our age. All of this is changing the face of the food industry and the expectations we have of food and a balanced diet. Many degenerative illnesses, such as coronary heart disease, are, in large part, the failure of our bodies to catch up with the twentieth century's virtual revolution in what constitutes "food." In other words, the culprit isn't necessarily cholesterol or any other single food component, but the very means we now employ to grow, collect, sell, and prepare what appears on the table. Think of the extraordinary demands placed on each of us by the wholesale stripping of vital nutrients from our food and the inclusion of thousands of strange new elements into our diets. Today's meat business makes liberal use of steroids, antibiotics, tranquilizers and beta-blockers. Agrichemicals currently employ pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides, fungicides, and nitrate fertilizers. Current food processing refines wheat and sugar, which reduces their trace mineral and vitamin content, as do current storage methods, food irradiation, and the addition of some 3,794 food additives, colorings, sweeteners, texture modifiers, and preservatives--not to mention genetic engineering! According to a Pentagon report that was issued in January 2001, less than 1 percent of the food that we import into this country is ever inspected.
The latest in a long line of food processing technologies is irradiation. This process involves using very large doses of ionizing radiation, which, it is claimed, will inhibit the sprouting of vegetables; delay the ripening of fruits; kill insect pests in fruit, grains, or spices; kill or render sterile parasites such as trichinae in pork; reduce or eliminate the microorganisms that cause food to spoil; and, in particular, reduce the bacteria such as Salmonella on meats and seafood products that cause food poisoning. It has been hailed as an alternative to other methods of preservation, such as the use of chemical additives. It is claimed that the process is completely safe and that consumers will benefit from reduced wastage, greater convenience, and better quality food. Against this view, there is a body of opinion that points to a variety of adverse effects from irradiation, such as unique chemical changes, loss of nutrients, unpleasant flavors and odors, a limited range of foods for which the process has been found suitable, the necessity for use of additives to offset undesirable effects, and studies showing adverse health effects in animals and humans fed with irradiated foods. Consumers have the right to know if any food or ingredient of processed foods has been irradiated. Irradiated foods look fresh and retain the appearance of freshness longer. Without labeling, the possibility of counterfeit "freshness" can be easily exploited. The facts about food irradiation go beyond the pure sciences of toxicology, microbiology and nutrition. They extend also to issues of concern about irradiation in the real world. In the real world of food supply and consumption, money and cost influence decisions about what is acceptable. What financial benefits are to be had, and, by whom? It destroys public confidence to discover that some who gain the most, have been involved in promoting the benefits of the technology, and that their companies have benefited from knowledge and speculation.
The real cause of pathological conditions in the human organism, lies not in some externally originating invasion of the body by swarming masses of microbes, demons, evil spirits, bad luck, or other such agents of causation, but in the internal reaction in the form of trapped wastes and poisons, to the consumption of denatured, intoxicating beverages and foods. The average American eats 12 entire 3,000-pound cows, 6 entire pigs, 3,000 birds, 3,000 fish and over 10,000 gallons of milk in their lifetime. This sludge blocks important arteries and kills us. Medicine will cut your chest in half for $150,000 every 10 years, rather than have you eat more fruits, vegetables and grains. The trouble always begins in the colon with an impaction of the tissue walls and a general clogging of the body's waste elimination system. All diseases, degenerations, and chronic ailments in all plants and animals are caused by microscopic or macroscopic physical obstructions--anything which loosens, removes, and eliminates these obstructions from the organism gives health. In the animal world, the primary source of these obstructions is the food material coming in.
Mercury, from amalgam dental fillings, can inhibit or modify how the body uses ATP, zinc, selenium, rubidium, vitamins A and C, and calcium. Cancer cells have altered sodium and calcium transport and reduced oxygen transport through the cell membrane. The oxygen deficiency within the cell reduces or eliminates the ability of the cell to oxidize glucose to carbon dioxide, which in turn, results in glucose being converted to lactic acid, lowering cellular pH into the acid range. These combined effects radically change cell metabolism and ultimately DNA replication. Mercury can alter sodium and calcium transport and also reduces the amount of oxygen transported. Mercury competes with calcium for cellular binding sites and, through this mechanism, can decrease cellular calcium or increase extracellular calcium. Mercury binds avidly to rubidium and selenium. Decreases in available selenium can also reduce available GSH-Px (glutathione peroxidase), which in turn causes a proliferation of free radical cellular damage. Mercury, at extremely low levels, can inhibit the respiratory burst of killer-cell leukocytes, reducing their effectiveness in controlling cancer cell proliferation.
For humans, the problem is severe because cooked food is so lifeless, dehydrated, and damaging. All degenerative conditions are caused by a superabundance of unnatural constituents and/or a deficiency of natural foods. These disorders develop slowly and silently. If the disease has not entered its final stages, and the organs are still operating, people regard themselves as "healthy." The fear of microbes has so frightened people that, to escape them, they have made the fatal mistake of cooking raw food and the unrestrained ingestion of laboratory-invented chemicals in order to avoid these microbes. Microbes are found everywhere; they will always exist. They can enter the human body through a multiplicity of channels. By consuming cooked food, people weaken the bacterial resistance of their cells. They burn the natural antibiotics that are developed by Nature to control harmful microbes. A raw food eater has no fear of bacteria, germs, or viruses, because natural forces protect him against them. Microbes cannot harm the fully developed and specialized cells. They spread their ravages on the weak, delicate, "civilized" cells. Your safest bet is to follow some of the basic dietary principles shared by many healthy native populations. Studies of native populations by Dr. Weston Price and Dr. Francis Pottenger, including the Inuits of Alaska, the Swiss of the Loetschental Valley, Native Americans, Africans, and South Sea islanders. All these populations--which lived on fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, wild game and fish or healthy, free-roaming animals, and, in some cases, fresh, unprocessed dairy products--were and are impressive for their strong, healthy bodies, straight, perfect teeth, and freedom from the degenerative diseases plaguing us nowadays in the West. These native diets have in common food that is fresh (or preserved naturally, whether smoked, dried, or pickled); it is grown locally and organically, in season; and it is cooked by traditional methods.
The religious among us accept our human dominion over the animals as God-given. But, even an atheist will concede that humans seem to have a de facto dominion over all they encounter here on earth--the plants, the animals, the water, wind, sand and earth. Some scholars suggest that the writers of the earliest biblical tracts did not intend to convey dominion over the animals in the sense of domination or authority. Instead, they read the ancient words as meaning stewardship of the animals--more of a responsibility than a right. Far out in first place for creating animal suffering is our food production system. Most of us never witness the animals' experience of entire lives under intense stress, crowded into factory farm buildings; fed unnatural foods for a lifetime of digestive disorders; cruelly transported without food, water, or protection from wind and cold; and finally brought to an end through heartless slaughter methods. Several billions of chickens, pigs, and cattle each year suffer these privations--and the associated pain and fear. Even though the slaughterhouse is hidden from us, we are all complicit in its horrors if we eat the slaughtered meat.
The tropical rainforests are among the planet's most precious natural resources. They contain 80% of the world's species of land vegetation and account for much of the global oxygen supply. These forests are the oldest terrestrial ecosystems of Earth and have developed extraordinary ecological richness. Half of all the species on Earth live in the moist tropical rainforests, and they are home to the world's most ancient indigenous peoples, tribes who have lived in harmony with their environment for millenia. With all their beauty and importancfe, however, the tropical rainforests are being destroyed at a terrifying rate. Every second, an area the size of a football field is destroyed forever! The number one factor in elimination of Latin America's tropical rainforests is cattle-grazing, the hamburgerization of the forests. Members of 20 to 30 diff3erent plant species, 100 different insect species, and dozens of bird, mammal, and reptile species are destroyed in the production of each fast-food hamburger made from rainforest beef.
In Central America, cattle typically graze on land that was rainforest before being cut down and burned to be used for rangeland. according to the Rainforest Action Network, 67 square feet of tropical rainforest are destroyed for the production of every fast-food quarter pound hamburger made from rainforest beef. Rainforest beef is typically found in fast food hamburgers or processed beef products. The United States imports over 100,000,000 pounds annually of fresh and frozen beef from Central American countries. Two-thirds of these countries' rainforests have been cleared, primarily to raise cattle whose stringy, cheap meat is exported to profit the U.S. food industry. Imports of beef by the U.S. from southern Mexico and Central America during the past 25 years has been the major factor in the loss of about half of the tropical forests there--all for the sake of keeping the price of hamburger in the U.S. about a nickel less than it would be otherwise. When it enters the United States, the beef is not labeled with its country of origin, so there is no way to trace it to is sources. Rainforest beef imported into the U.S. is mixed with more fatty domestic cattle trimmings and sold mostly to fast food chains and food processing companies for use in hamburgers, hot dogs, luncheon meats, chilies, stews, frozen dinners, and pet foods.