Politics of food
Good morning my friends!
I hope this morning finds you full of blessings and joy. The Spring fever continues here, but today it seems that there may be a little sun. What is more thrilling, however, is the lack of wind. Oh I know wind is important, but boy does it disrupt me to the core. I didn’t bring a subject to the table today. I imagine that is because politics are on my mind, and I rarely discuss politics here. I find myself needing to process some thoughts though, and this seems like just as good a place as any.
You are probably thinking, “Oh crap, not here too”. But fear not. It is not my intention to discuss the president, his cabinet or followers, or any other aspect of the current political minefield. I am thinking about other politics. That being said, it is the division in this country that has me feeling a need to process, without a safe place to do so. Anything I say that is politically charged has the potential for the negative feedback that I come here to avoid. I do think that the government has much to gain from dividing us. I do believe that the only thing that is going to unite us is a major catastrophe. I do lean a little to the paranoid side when I look around at our current situation. I have never been the doomsayer type, I tend to think on the positive side of things. That being said, this tin hat I am wearing lately is getting pretty comfortable.
What I am stuck on is the mental health side of things. I think the real problem we are seeing is a lack of mental health. Lately I have been pondering the reasons that our overall mental health is so low. As far as I can tell, this is environmentally driven. I am not talking about global warming here. What I mean is that our environments have become so toxic that is becomes difficult for people to get their basic needs met.
Food. Its such a huge issue, lets start there. We have modified our food system so drastically that it hardly seems like food anymore. The last couple of days I have seen a lot of comments on social media about children, ten and eleven years old, having full blown anxiety attacks. This troubles me so much. What is happening in our world that ten and eleven year old children have that much to worry about? Anxiety is for adults! And even the occurrence of adult anxiety has risen so much that it is clear there is at least one underlying factor. I think it starts with diet. I wanted some affirmation of this, so I asked my kid. When he was a child, I ate just like the rest of the country. We relied on a highly refined diet. For several reasons. It was how I was raised. It was all I knew. It seemed (and is) far cheaper. Convenience, and being a busy, tired, overworked single mom made this really seem like the only path available. And frankly, I was young, fairly physically healthy, and just saw the whole food craze as a foodie fad. My child had sensory issues, I lived in apartment complexes that didn’t allow for me to discover the joy that is gardening. Or so I thought. In the last few years though, I have seen the light. Over and over in all of his different therapies, people would recommend I change my child’s diet to affect his multiple neurological disorders. Of course, at this time in my life, I just felt that they had no idea how impossible that would be for me to pull off, given our special set of circumstances. Sigh. Good ole hindsight. If only I knew then what I know now. My health forced me to eat my words. Around my mid thirties, it seemed like my life went to hell in a hand-basket. I remember being a child. A teen. And watching my mom put on a pair of rollerblades. At the time I was active in gymnastics and a fairly coordinated child. Naive. But coordinated. I recalled thinking something to the effect of “I will never be that clumsy” HaHaHa. Naive is the perfect word. Let me tell you. I think I was 34 when I decided to get a pair of rollerblades to exercise my dogs, and let me also tell you that I flashed right back to that childhood moment. Only this time, I was my mom. My child was watching me flail around clumsily on a pair of rollerblades for the first time in what must have been fifteen or twenty years. Ahhhh hindsight. And this is when it hit me. I am not the young spry thing I once was, and if I didn’t get my butt on the health bandwagon, I was going to be one very unhappy old lady. I learned about walking and exercise, and I started herb gardening, but I was still totally in the dark about my eating habits, and I honestly just didn’t even think that buying whole and organic foods was even an option. My instincts told me that genetically modifying food was dangerous, but it was only instinct and emotion. I had no facts to back it all up.
In this time I had found stability, and met a fantastic man who had become my best friend over the years. It was easy to be friends, there was no pressure. We just weren’t each others “type”, and so it was easy to accept each other for exactly who we were. You know where this is leading right? I married that man. Turns out we were exactly each others “type”, we just had to grow up and figure it out. The point is, that as we went through the days and weeks and months together, we started to notice things. He had a hard job and his hands were hurting him far more than a young mans hands should hurt. I did some research and made him a homemade hand cream to help ease the pain. We started noticing other pains that seemed illogical. Gentle touches from him physically hurt my muscles. I was slowly losing focus and ambition. I was once an active social person, and while I was perfectly content and satisfied, I kept lamenting, “If I didn’t know better, I would self diagnose with depression”. The problem was, I wasn’t emotionally depressed. Something else must be going on. All the while I was slowly becoming aware of toxins. I had started making homemade body products, and while I loved feeling like I was eliminating toxins, I really didn’t understand yet and for me it was about what I was creating. It was like cooking, or baking, or crafting. A joy. A source of fun. I still did not understand how much I would end up desiring this as a way of life. I went about my life. One day at a time, growing foggier, more sluggish, seeing all types of little aches and pains that just didn’t make sense for my age, and little by little, I learned about environmental toxins.
I am interested in so many things, that I am constantly on some kind of new learning adventure. I absolutely love creating things, from food to crafts, my interests vary greatly. I am curious by nature. I want to know about everything I can. Knowledge is power, but more importantly, life is short and knowledge allows me to get the most out of the short time I do have here. I am honestly baffled by people who are content to sit with the knowledge they have, and not have a desire to expand it. Remember a few days ago when I talked about hindsight? Well, through the years of raising a special needs child, actively seeking mental and physical health for both of us, I learned a whole lot of tidbits here and there about environmental toxicity, and it all came together for me just a few short months ago. I got my boy healthy and well adjusted. We worked hard and saw a lot of specialists, but we were living around illness, not fighting it. Recently, my husbands business partner learned that he had an autoimmune disorder and they started researching food and toxins, as he was told that diet change was the only answer to his newfound pain. This is a story that could take a post of its own. For today, lets just say it was an adventure in starvation and food deprivation as they learned how to eat whole foods on the road.
We learned about our food system. The horrors that we learned about, piled on top of the tidbits that we had already become aware of in our quest to figure out why my health was declining so rapidly. And, we halfheartedly followed a whole food diet. We were learning things about our food that were hard to hear, and harder to believe. Nitrates? Used as hog poison? Seriously? What are they doing in our food??? Dyes, pesticides, hormones, Sulphates, preservatives, emulsifiers. Not only are we poisoning ourselves, half the time it is just to make our food look nice. On top of adding all these things to our food, we are also genetically modifying it. Now I don’t care what you believe as far as creation goes, it still stands to reason that we are tampering with a system that was not meant to be tampered with. Food was never meant to hurt us. It was meant to nourish us, in many instances, even be medicine to heal us. As I set my sights on a small homestead, and started taking the steps to be more self sufficient, I also gained tidbits about the commercialized, processed, way of life I had been living. The life most Americans are still living. I will never forget the day the lightbulb came on about freshness. It was late Fall, my in laws were visiting, and I had purchased some beets to roast with our dinner. I took one bite, and I can still feel my face scrunch up. Hubby took notice and asked what was wrong. I told him the beets taste awful and asked why they were so flavorless? As the answer occurred to him, his face turned to compassion and with a knowing grin he gently replied “Honey, these beets did not come from your garden”
And it was sinking in. I had discovered ferments and ancient food preservation. I had learned about soil quality and the streamlining of produce in the markets. I had learned about the difference in the quality of fresh farm eggs compared to store bought eggs, of any variety. Don’t go buy the expensive, fancy organic, vegetarian, store eggs looking for the difference. You won’t find it. Rather, seek some locally produced eggs, just once, and you will see the difference. You will also see that it is worth every penny of the price increase.
Back to the business partner. As the guys tried to follow a whole diet on the road, we tried to continue that practice at home, on the weekends. They learned more about food. I learned more about food. The dangers hidden in our mainstream food system were presenting around every corner now. But this was my husbands journey, and when he left on Monday, I went right back to my less healthy habits. After being gluten deprived for three days (they were on an elimination diet, and grains are not part of the first month), as soon as he left, I went on a binge. Waffles, Bagels, grilled cheese. You name it. If it was bread, I wanted some. That first night I had the worst migraine, and I started to see what gluten was doing. Though at this point I still had no idea that I would soon find out that I had Celiac disease. I believe that this halfhearted elimination is what led me there. Taking it away, then giving it back like a vicious cycle, my body responded out loud. If you have Celiac, you probably know what Dermatitis Herpeteformis is. It took me over a year to figure out what that damned rash was! I tried everything I could think of to treat the darn thing. From essential oils to medicated OTC creams. I tried everything. Nothing helped. Heat, stress, and Iodine of all things, aggravated it. When I finally found out what it was, I stopped all treatments and strictly avoided gluten. Within three days I was seeing more relief in this rash than I had seen with any previous treatment. And so, I dove into learning about gluten. Good grief! Gluten hurts everyone! Whether you realize it or not. Do a five minute search and you will be horrified at what you learn! It is in everything. It targets opiate receptors. Your reluctance to be learn about gluten, that comes from physical addiction. We have overdosed ourselves with gluten. Some studies say it is due to genetically modifying it. Some say it is the pesticides that are found on it from the farming practices. I suspect it is a little of both. Think about it. comfort foods are typically baked goods. Why do you suppose that is? Go look for yourself, don’t take my word on it.
Our diet has changed drastically, in the form of tiny baby steps. One day I learned about ferments. One day I learned about fresh eggs. One day I learned about streamlined produce, and slowly, with baby steps our diet changed. Unrecognizable from ten years ago. After seeing multiple comments on Facebook this week about children having anxiety attacks, I started thinking about what could be causing this. My own child was diagnosed with severe anxiety, but I chalked it up to his other neuro disorders, and his dad being gone. He had a fairly stressful childhood as we both battled for stability. Never really thought much about it until recently. So Last night, as I was dwelling on this, I asked him if he had noticed a difference in his anxiety levels since our diet changed. He is an adult now, and no longer on anxiety meds, and his answer was still yes.
This is the tip of the iceberg. We live in a fast paced society, where convenience is equated with success. I was going to write about basic needs, pace of society, and diet. I was going to write about how technology has affected our perspective of convenience and instant gratification. I was going to talk about exercise, wiggly kids and heavywork. I had a lot of environmental issues in mind as I started this post. However, I think that the topic of food has taken enough of your precious time. I keep going back to the food. I think our food is a major component in the lack of physical and mental health we see today. Peoples basic need for real nourishment cannot be met in this toxic food system. Maybe food is enough for today. It is a big topic. Maybe you will feel inspired to look into it a little. Maybe you will look up just one preservative or one dye to see how it is affecting you and your family. I think I will save the other environmental toxins for another day. Today, I hope you humor me, and go learn one detail about where your food comes from, and what might be being added to it. You just might find yourself inclined to take a baby step. Alternately, for a fast glimpse at the streamlining of our food system, take a gander at the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed web page for an idea how little variety is left in our mainstream food. It may shock you to see the variety you are missing out on. At very least, it is fascinating to see some of the produce that you never even knew existed. I love reading the stories about where some of the most unique seeds come from. Who knew? Certainly not me. I hope I haven’t bored you with my food system rant. I hope you feel inspired to learn something new today, and I hope you will join me tomorrow, as I try to dissect some of the environmental issues that are causing such a breakdown in so many people. Have a most blessed day, and eat something healthy!