Ain’t What It Used To Be

In my recent travels a message keeps coming through to me:  Our food—even the organic— is not what it used to be.

Labeling for products that meet the USDA-NOP s...

Labeling for products that meet the USDA-NOP standards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day I was talking to the produce manager at my store and we were talking about organic farming. He was telling me that he knows for a fact that some of the local farmers do not use pesticides on their produce but they cannot afford to leave acres of land dormant for five to seven years and do all the other things that are required of organic farmers in order to be certified organic.

I can see how this would be both challenging and expensive.  I was reminded that being certified “organic” involves a lot more than just not using pesticides and chemicals.  It also has to do with replenishing the soil so it becomes nutrient rich and many other factors. That makes me want to kiss the ground those organic farmers walk on because they do go to the expense and they do take the time to be truly organic.

We have to replenish and safeguard our natural resources because they are not physically infinite on this planet.  They can run out or be destroyed.  And good, mineral rich, life-sustaining top soil is definitely a vital resource.

I have known for some time that even organically farmed food is no longer as nutrient rich as it used to be.  How do I know?  The main way I know is by eating it and realizing that there is something missing. The food doesn’t provide all the power it used to.  The other way I know is common sense.

Have you ever read about how we began using chemicals on our crops and why? And what happened once we started down that very slippery slope?  The chemicals were put on the crops to boost growth, the chemicals made the soil weak which invited more pests, chemical pest control came into play, the animals on those farms were affected by the chemicals and got sick, animals were routinely given antibiotics and also hormones since they were also having trouble reproducing. That is the short version and there are many detailed explanations to be found online.

So here we are in 2013 protesting GMOs (genetically modified foods).  I say to my produce manager, “Unfortunately, even if we start labeling GMO foods, lots of people will still buy them.” Money talks here just like everywhere else.

But the fact that we’re talking about it is a plus. Another plus: the growing popularity of diets and diet books and diet gurus promoting whole food, plant-based diets.  That’s a big plus! And there are others.

But we stil have the problem of depleted soils and many foods that have long since been altered to suit a better bottom line.  Here’s a good example a friend just told me about regarding wheat. This is not simply about gluten-free, wheat-sensitive issues. This is about wheat period. All wheat, apparently.  It was another delivery of the same message: Our food—even the organic— is not what it used to be.  It’s a May 2013 article called, “Modern Wheat Is The ‘Perfect Chronic Poison’ Says Expert.”

I’m not trying to make a point about wheat and I remain undecided about the information in the article.  But what I do know is that wheat is definitely not the same as it was before. It is weaker and offers us less than we think we’re buying.  Just like other foods.

If you’re like me and interested in healthy, life-giving whole foods then you probably do what I do. You look for the best sources of the cleanest, untouched, unaltered food. Heirloom fruits and veggies, organic–of course, locally grown where you know the farmer, and growing it yourself even though you probably don’t have any better soil than anyone else because think how many years it would take to bring soil back to where it was in the 1940’s?  We don’t give up though, because we know that doing these things is far better than not doing them. And we are focused on creating our future, not destroying it.

And even if you’re not particularly gung ho about organic foods and GMOs, who hasn’t become interested in one or more so-called super foods?  Marketers dissect food into categories making a particular fruit, seed or vegetable a “super food” because it has some phytonutrient in it that is good for you. No doubt it is good for you, but there’s only one problem.

The problem is that for all the known, scientifically tested and proven micronutrients, there are a myriad of those that haven’t been discovered. And how are we to know on any given day at any given meal what exactly we need to supplement?

We can’t.  That pretty much brings us full circle to the question, what are the natural, whole food, truly super  no, spectacularly super foods?  The ones that not only have what we need, but are in an organic, whole form that our bodies can assimilate—using what it needs at that moment and safely, naturally discarding the rest?

Mother Nature has been shackled and tortured all over the planet, but she is not so easy to conquer!  She has her resources of sustainable, life-giving nourishment that has not been degraded by “modern” agriculture. That is what we are looking for and it does exist.

Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon (Photo credit: Lance and Erin)

Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon (Photo credit: Lance and Erin)

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