It is a victory of capitalism and a winning marketing strategy to make people believe that natural foods are not only inadequate, but are also less convenient and more costly. The idea that our bodies (including the communities of bacteria within them which have evolved to eat a very specific diet) could so rapidly adjust and do well on diets so dissimilar from our biological requirements totally negates what we know to be true about nature, of which humans are (only) a part. Eating healthy once in a while, or giving oneself a treat by eating fast food, are concepts that feed into the sense of disconnection which the industrial food system depends upon for its success.
Industrial agriculture and, in particular, processed and convenience foods, abstracts the true costs of eating. It would be an understatement to say that agriculture has been one of the most pivotal advances in the development of human civilization, but what can be said for the extraordinary disconnection many of us face when it comes to what and how we eat? The organic food and slow food movements both encapsulate the concern that the way in which many of us eat today hardly captures the essence of civility, let alone human nature. We eat alone, on the go, and to many of us, cooking a meal is more of a chore than a privilege. Growing, preparing, and cooking food is as foreign to some as sitting down to a community or family meal. We have lost touch not only with the food and the true value of its consumption, but in terms of nourishment as well as socially, emotionally, energetically, and ethically.
It has been one of the great successes of capitalism to have convinced nations that they need more food. To eat in a way that honours the biological needs and capacity of the body, as well as the ecological parameters of nature, has become a radical act wherein food is barely recognizable to some by sight or taste. Food-like products have in many ways trumped the old-world whole foods, which are now bland, boring, and require too much work to transform. Even in the health and wellness world, capitalism has won out over traditionalist methods of food preparation and inherited wisdom that would otherwise stand in place of conventional nutritionism rooted in reductionist perspective. Advances in nutrition science have enabled us to know more, however tend to miss out on the larger picture; what tends to be lost is the awareness of our participation in the web of life. Though our authority seems distinct, there is no denying that humans are living, breathing creatures, and thus inseparable from nature. We are nature; a part of that interconnected system. Our abstraction away from that awareness has resulted not only in the degradation of our environment, our culture, but also our bodies and minds.
Industrial agriculture has given us fast and convenient foods, somewhat abstracted and partial; just like the rest of industrial society. The price tag reflects a capitalist system wherein cycles of production and consumption feed into and burgeon one another. What it fails to accommodate for is the hidden cost that such food and agricultural practices come along with. On the surface, the food looks cheap (and tastes it, too). To reflect an inadequacy found in industrial agriculture that has resulted in many issues relating to integrity and quality, monoculture equivalency in a diet relates to insufficient support for bacterial communities in the gut. As barren of diversity is the industrial field, so to is the gut of the industrial eater. It is beginning to be more thoroughly understood that one of the keys to good gut health is a diversity of plant foods in the diet.
The natural world asks us to be slow and conscious in our approach, whereas the world we live in today commands fast paced movement that necessitates convenience at every turn. So we are then better able to rationalize the choices that take us further from our essential nature.The closer a relationship we have to our food, the more closely we are connected to the sense that we are an intrinsic part of nature and the web of creation from which our food came. I feel liberated in conscious consumption, where I can acknowledge and honour the system(s) that enable my meals to take place. When we participate as much as we can, we get intimate with nature; we reject the stories that might otherwise suggest convenience somehow trumps biological and evolutionary wisdom. This irony is spelled out in the sickness we experience when we move further away from the natural world, be it our homes or our food. What and how we eat is an expression of our primordial selves, wherein we can access the part of ourselves still (endlessly) connected to Mother Earth.
3 Rules for Eating Well
Eat real food. Get out of the mindset that processed food-like items can be eaten in leu of actual food. Our diet should consist of primarily whole and fresh foods. I know there’s a lot of push-back here with tons of reasons why processed and convenience foods are “better”. “I’m too busy!”, “healthy food is too expensive”, “I just LIKE those foods!”. We have to reorient the way we perceive food and our bodies. The greatest cost is to our health. I’m not suggesting our worlds revolve around what we eat to such a point that it becomes detrimental to our wellbeing, but taking the extra time and reorganizing our budget to accommodate our health is 100% vital. It’s vital not only to our individual wellness, but to our communities and world.
Know your body. Listen! Figure out what feels good, what doesn’t, when you’re full, when you’re hungry. This is an essential part of getting the most out of what we eat, and to make sure that we’re creating health in our bodies rather than mindlessly fuelling. Ancient wisdom from yogic philosophy and Ayurveda tell us that foods have a very specific effect on our minds and bodies. What we eat and how we eat can create huge shifts in our minds and bodies.
Eat food from the land close to you. There is an inherent wisdom in the earth that I believe is transmitted through eating. When we eat foods that are from the land we live on, we take in the information of that land. When we eat in tune with Mother Earth, we honour her seasons, her nature, and all she gives to us.
Thank you, Mother Earth!