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)
Advertisements

Keep It Simple Sweetie – Five Basic Rules for Knowing What to Eat

Me:  “Hunny, could you get the soap box outta the closet for me please?  I think it’s under that basket of hats and gloves.”

Hunny:  “Again?  Why don’t you just keep it out if you’re going to use it so much?”

Me: “I know.  I know.  I’m trying not to get on it but sometimes I just can’t help it.  Believe me, I would love to write a nice, pleasant little blog that everyone knows and loves.  But it is not always possible.”

~~~~~

[Guests walk in.]

Oh!  Hello there!  So glad you dropped by!  Can I offer you a recipe or two?  How about a nice cup of tea?

[Silence]

Hmmm.  You seem upset about something.  What can I help you with?  Oh I get it!  You’re confused about all these foods that people are running around raving about and telling you that you need them in order to be healthy?  You’re under pressure to consume acai berry but you don’t really understand why?  You’ve heard you shouldn’t eat soy, you should eat soy, you have no idea if you should eat carbs and now you’ve read my blog and wonder what the hell there is that you can safely sweeten your food with?  You never in a million years imagined that plain old feeding your face was really so complicated?

No problem!  Let me tell you the basic rules of knowing what to eat.  The rules are so simple, I’m sure you’ll say you really already knew them.  I’m just reminding you.

1.  Choose whole foods.  These are foods that have all their edible parts left intact.  They have not been heavily refined or processed.  Examples of whole foods are unpolished grains, beans, whole vegetables, whole fruits, whole animals.  Yes!  Have a cow!  Really, if you are going to eat animal protein at least eat something that resembles a part of the whole animal instead of meat-like products that are ground, pressed and blended with God-knows-what.  About a year ago I learned that ground beef is often mixed with other things and that this is not necessarily included on the label.  And just recently we all read about “pink slime” and how some school districts are vowing to eliminate it from the school lunch menus.

2.  Eat organically grown and raised food.  There is plenty of information available about what organic farming is.  But it can get confusing if you don’t know the legal definitions so here you are (from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture website):

100% Organic and Organic:  Products labeled as “100 percent organic” must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients and processing aids. Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of non-agricultural substances approved on the National List including specific non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form.

Made with Organic Ingredients:  Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel. For example, soup made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients and only organic vegetables may be labeled either “soup made with organic peas, potatoes, and carrots,” or “soup made with organic vegetables.”

3.  Choose foods that are as fresh and local as possible.  Sure you can buy a can of organic pinto beans, some frozen organic brown rice (and I have been guilty of both on occasion) but it is simply not possible to preserve the nutrients and life energy of a food when it has been harvested a year ago and has been sitting in a warehouse six months after that.  And even if you are buying fresh—let’s take cabbage for an example—your “fresh” cabbage is losing precious vitamin C while it’s waiting for you to pick it up and put it in your cart.  If at all possible, look for “locally grown” and look for any farmer’s markets local farms or other sources of food that is truly fresh.  Better yet, start your own garden, grow some herbs, participate in a co-op or community organic garden or whatever you can.

That is one reason why locally grown food is important.  But there is another reason to choose locally grown food.  That is, your ability to easily get along with your environment. Today we can get any food from any part of the world.  But why do we have to import something like fresh pineapple if we live in Alaska?  Obviously pineapple doesn’t grow in Alaska and in many other climates as well.  So if we ate tropical foods every day while living in a cold climate we’d probably find it harder to stay warm.  Tropical foods are in balance with tropical environments.

I have a friend who was recently consulting someone about their diet.  She found out the person, who lives in a southern state, had a problem of being too hot all the time.  She wisely recommended that he consume less meat because she knows that meat keeps a body very warm indeed.

4.  Include naturally fermented foods.  Naturally fermented foods provide valuable “good bacteria” for your digestive tract.  In a world dedicated to killing every kind of bacteria and “germ” with fluoride in water and toothpaste, chlorine in water and chlorine wipes for every surface, and the king of intestinal flora killers–antibiotics—it’s no wonder that people suffer everything from chronic gas to serious yeast infestations.  First of all, realize that if you are ill and have to take antibiotics, do it responsibly.  Antibiotics kill bacteria but don’t differentiate between the good and the bad.  Every day put back the beneficial bacteria that the antibiotic is killing.  Some people feel this is wasteful and they just wait until they are finished taking the antibiotic.  I don’t agree.  By that time you have been totally stripped, leaving your intestinal tract open to infestation of whatever comes your way.

All traditional cultures have fermented foods.  It was done to preserve foods and it was well known to be helpful to digestion.  Pickled vegetables, pickled fish and yogurt in western cultures.  Naturally fermented soy products such as shoyu (real soy sauce) and miso as well as other types of pickles and fermented foods are used in eastern cultures.

When looking to purchase naturally pickled or fermented foods, beware that many of the cultured dairy products are pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized and then they add the beneficial bacteria such as acidophilus.  When I talk about including naturally fermented foods, I am talking about ones that are developed by traditional processes that result in live beneficial bacteria.  You should also know that the ever-so-popular yogurts available are often flavored with sugar and sugared fruit products.  That defeats the overall purpose of protecting health and leads to my final basic rule for knowing what to eat.

5.  Don’t eat refined sugar.  Get to know what is sugar and what isn’t and which types of sweeteners are complex carbohydrates and which ones are not.  I have written many posts on this blog about the subject.  Sugar is one of the most devastating food additives ever and it has been around so long, and contributes to so many health problems which are blamed on other things that it is truly insidious.

I know many people who consider themselves very healthy and conscientious who say they mostly avoid sugar and only eat it as a special treat.  That is excellent and I admire their intentions to avoid this toxic substance.  But the problem I see is that sugar is in so many things that it is difficult indeed to eat little or none of it.

~~~~~

Me: “I’m done with the soapbox now, Hunny.  Help me get down, please.”        

Hunny:  “Shall I put it away?”                                                                                              

Me:  “For now, thanks.  But I might need it again so don’t bury it too far into the closet.”

Bright and Sunny This Morning, Heavy Clouds and Possible Chance of Cannibalism Later Today

Human genes engineered into experimental GMO rice being grown in Kansas  

Learn more:

http://www.naturalnews.com/035745_GMO_rice_human_genes_Kansas.html#ixzz1tj09BfFa

This is the Natural News headline I found in my email box this morning.  I was still feeling kinda warm and glowy about getting a nice acknowledgement/award from a fellow blogger yesterday.  But it’s back to business for me today.

I have so many concerns about this that I can’t keep count.  The first one is that now I’m going to need to track down the source of this information and find out if it is just the rantings of the merchants of chaos or does it have some basis in truth?

gmo

gmo (Photo credit: decorat)

Then if there is any truth to it, well, obviously there are lots of concerns such as the fact that plants and crops don’t keep to themselves exactly.  The wind blows—things fly through the air—mix around—and get into other plants and crops.  I have seen quite a bit recently about “traces of GMO” in non-GMO foods.

There is the fact that currently the FDA doesn’t make food manufacturers label their products GMO.  Supposedly organic food would not be GMO but what if the organic farm is downwind from this place in Kansas?

I worry about the children who will eat this stuff and the mothers and fathers who will eat it and then produce children.  And then of course there’s the whole idea of some sort of cannabalism and that is a disturbing thought.  Who comes up with the idea to do something like this in the first place?

That is what I want to know.