Supplying your body with optimal nutrition is an uphill battle in our industrialized world. I would almost go so far as to say that we cannot reach optimization through even the best dietary approaches since our soil is so depleted of minerals & the logistics of bringing food to your table have numerous limitations as well. This blog post will not be your usual, run-of-the-mill, nutrition discussion about eating your leafy greens, limiting saturated fat, and avoiding fast food. You’ve heard it all before ad nauseum. I want to guide you into the deeper realms of nutrition in our modern society & what we can do to maximize our energy & mood. We will explore the economics of the food supply, the hidden defenses of plants, & the relationship we must have with the animals we consume. This last topic is near and dear to my heart. Having a baseline understanding of the topics will help you navigate through an industrialized food system designed for you to fail.
Ever since reading the book Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin, I felt a deeper sense of empathy for the animal life around me. It would still take several years before I started acting accordingly, but I had now become awakened to our disconnect with the animal kingdom. I understand now that the hunter, farmer, & butcher are the true protectors of animals on this planet since they empathize with the beings that they ultimately will be killing for their flesh. As Daniel Vitalis puts it, the most intimate act is not sexual intercourse, but consuming another living being as you are absorbing its entire life force. It becomes a part of you forever. A rite of passage missing in the Western world is having to kill an animal for food & see its eyes and face while it begins to perish. I guarantee you that the next time you eat bacon, burgers, or chicken wings, you will feel a different connection to those animals. Now, I am not advocating that all people go out & hunt their own food, however we all should develop a better relationship with our local environment, local farmers, local wildlife, & local plant life. Start identifying & observing the nature around you. Then marvel at how different you feel throughout your day from just this simple strategy.
Let’s now look to those slow-moving herbivorous grazers for inspiration on how to properly eat plants. Fred Provenza highlights the intricate interactions between herbs & herbivores in his great book Nourishment. When these roaming herd animals such as cattle or sheep are out grazing freely on the land, they meticulously choose certain plant species to eat. As the seasons change, so too do their preferences. They may nibble on this grass a little, then this one, and then this other one with no apparent method to the madness. However, that is only to our untrained eyes as humans, since we rely heavily on the reductionist views of our scientific method. We can measure that this plant species has the most vitamins & minerals, so why do they not just munch away on it while foregoing those other hapless plants? It is because they know that the plants have natural defenses like terpenes, alkaloids, and phenolic compounds, and can sense when enough is enough. Do not think for a second that we are the smartest animal on this planet because we can construct tall buildings, cars, airplanes, and the internet. That would be a very myopic definition of intelligence in my opinion. We have much to learn from these gentle giants out on the prairies, as well as all of the wild fauna out there on planet Earth.
Have you heard of CAFOs? It stands for Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operations. Think about that for a second. The animals that become apart of our bodies & souls have been degraded to nothing more than commodities in our food system. No longer do we care for the wellbeing of these animals before their slaughter, as long as the profit margin is right. It is a sad state of affairs & I am truly appalled at how long we have allowed these CAFOs to continue with their misery-inducing practices. This also affects you on a personal level. When animals
are deprived of nutrients, space, & joy, their meat will be devoid of any nutrition & leave your body craving more food to find what it needs. Not only that, but stress hormones & other detrimental compounds will be present in large quantities which can throw your hormonal balance out of whack. Luckily, there has been a major shift over the past decade towards regenerative agriculture & humane practices. All I ask of you is that you start with just minor changes to your normal shopping for animal products & consider how those animals were raised before you vote with your dollar.
Speaking of regenerative farming, not only is it better for our carbon footprint, it literally rejuvenates the soil, restores the ecosystems, & brings joy back to all of life. The conventional method uses convoluted logistics & unnecessary transportation from large, corporate-owned, farms that stresses the food supply & inherently facilitates poverty, hunger, & food deserts. The federal government subsidies for corn, wheat, & soy are pushing the conventional model to the brink of failure which means it is time to give that money to small farms instead. The answer is buying local, from farmers that grow organically with a focus on maintaining the ecosystem naturally. The ones that care about the land & their customers when it comes to their products. Pesticide-laden crops have been implicated in many chronic conditions that we see today including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, obesity, heart disease, cancer, & autoimmunity. These chemicals have no place in our food system as they are destroying our health & the health of our future generations. Nelson Henderson said it best, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
What I have just discussed here can be viewed as inconvenient truths. They definitely leave an ugly stain on our history. It can be daunting when you first start to make changes, but you will thank me down the road when your vitality & vigor increase exponentially. At the Crossroads clinic, our patients are determined to feel better. The fortitude that they exhibit when it comes to dietary changes just amazes me. I literally derive much of my strength for ice baths, fasting, & other hormetic stressors from their tenacity. Of course, they all slip up from time to time which only makes them human. Falling off the wagon only builds more resilience which is something that we constantly remind them of, because it can feel like failure at the time. The path to success is never a paved straightaway. Remember, that the obstacle IS the way.
If you would like assistance on your health journey and are fed up with the conventional medical model, then contact our office at (727) 789-4020 and Janine will get you all set up for your initial consultation. I look forward to meeting you and helping you to be your best self. We dedicate as much time as needed to get you back on track.