Musings: Beyond Food

There’s so much to say about food I don’t even know where to begin. Like air and water, food is a life essential — we’ve all got to eat, (although I’ve read accounts of breatharians, who have reduced their physical living requirements so completely that they simply live on air, light and water) — but how much do our food choices really affect our health?

If everything I read about what can and can’t and must be eaten to stay healthy is true, I certainly would have bit the dust a long time ago. Dr. Oz says my refined carbs are killing my kidneys; Dr. Mercola insists 1000mg of krill oil is an essential daily supplement; and Dr. Terry Wahls explains — through scientific research and her own dramatic recovery from seven years of immobilization due to multiple sclerosis — why only the Paleo hunter-gatherer diet can properly feed our mitochondrial DNA. While I have no doubt certain diets or supplements can be useful to some people for some time, maybe even for a lifetime, am I really putting myself at risk if I don’t take krill oil? Maybe. And haven’t billions of people lived healthy and well into their 80s, 90s and 100s enjoying their bread and butter?

The truth is no one could keep up with all the current nutrition advice because there are too many conflicting choices. Even holistic experts cannot agree on a healthy diet. Humans need animal protein. Avoid all animal products. Raw vegan is the healthiest human diet. The vegan diet is vitamin deficient. Fruit is nature’s perfect food. Fruit has too much sugar. Get your healthy omega-3s from fish. Fish is contaminated with mercury and Fukushima radiation.

With all the nutritional experts’ knowledge and expensive research studies, you’d think Western medicine would have been able to provide some definitive answers by now — but they hardly even seem interested in exploring food as either a cause or cure for disease. Hospital food served to nourish sick patients back to health is notoriously overcooked, unappetizing and heavily processed; heck, they even host fast food restaurants on their premises! Holistic cancer clinics, on the other hand, report reliable, long-term success reversing even end stages disease with diet; the power of food as medicine is well documented.

While it makes perfect sense “we are what we eat,” our bodies also have their own intelligence at work. How else can we explain the 42-year old vegan marathon runner with a brain tumor, the one with the cancer-busting healthy diet and lifestyle? By contrast, there’s the fast food addict who’s still alive at 75, adding six packets of sugar to his daily cup of coffee. Clearly, food does not have the same effect on every body and other unseen factors are at work.

Fortunately, our bodies are uniquely, incredibly, adaptive and resilient to even decades of poor food choices or addictions. This is why seemingly miraculous health turnarounds can be the result of someone making even a single ingredient change, such as eliminating dairy or adding a particular supplement to their diet. Like a parched potted plant springing to life within minutes after being watered, the body responds immediately to the nutrients it needs. It is the miracle of food.

While people who have plenty fret about which foods are healthiest, 842 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat, according to the World Food Programme. The world produces enough food to feed everyone; the principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food. Americans spend about 10% of their income on food, while families in developing countries can spend up to 70% of their budget, so even the slightest increase in food prices can be devastating.

No one wants to be hungry. The prospect of future food shortages or price spikes looms larger each day on our global horizon due to extreme soil erosion, increasing drought, and short-sighted food policies favoring corporate profits, not the welfare of the world’s population and precious food supply. By planting GMO crops and pouring their toxic soups over our fields to keep crop yields artificially high so we can feed people today, we are mortgaging the world’s future soil fertility beyond repair. Where are we going to grow food once these chemicals have completely destroyed the microbial life that keeps the soil alive and fertile? This is why many European nations and even countries with starving populations have rejected GMO crops entirely.

As much as we’d prefer to deny it, food is a political issue. The policies being decided on global, national and local levels require the attention of everyone. While watchdog organizations such as The Cornucopia Institute and Organic Consumers Association are working 24/7 on our behalf to keep organic food and farms from being swallowed up by corporate takeovers and disastrous legislation, it takes the efforts and contributions of everyone who wants a safe and healthy food supply to make it happen.

Carol Bedrosian is the publisher of Spirit of Change holistic magazine. Visit www.spiritofchange.org.