This morning, I read a funny article entitled, “7 Foods That Make Your Liver Glow In The Dark”. The title was intended to get the reader’s attention, but it was simply trying to communicate how far our food supply has come from its pristine beginnings.
My bookshelves are gradually running out of space because of the books written about the worrisome details of a world food supply that is looking less like a garden or an orchard, and more like a chemistry lab.
To give you a very rudimentary example of how far we’ve descended in our appreciation of natural eating, answer this question: When was the last three-month block of time in which your diet was comprised entirely of seasonal foods? If you’ve had conversations with people under a certain age, it may shock you to know that many people do not even realize that foods are generally associated with different seasons of the year – other than knowing watermelons are for summer and pumpkins are for Thanksgiving. But the idea of eating only those foods that are “in season” is entirely lost on Americans.
Another example: When was the last time you cut open a banana and found a seed that could actually be planted and grow a banana plant? Would it surprise you to know that the wild varieties of bananas have rather large seeds, and that the flesh of those bananas is typically bitter? Botanists have worked to cultivate varieties of fruits that appeal to the eye and palate with pleasant and harmless results. But their work has given way to food scientists who have taken the crossbreeding concept to the level of manipulating the core genetics of certain edible plants. It’s so common now that it’s almost impossible to find a conventionally grown tomato that isn’t genetically modified.
What about wheat? In the book Wheat Belly, Dr. William Davis discusses the many side effects he has observed as a result of modern wheat in the diet. They mirror what Doug has found over his 40+ years of research. In one section, he talks about the history of wheat. His work led me to Dr. Eli Kaufman (no relation to Doug) in Israel who writes about the hearty ancestral wheat of that region, and how today’s varieties pale in comparison in terms of nutritional value, and even it’s ability to withstand fungal overgrowth. Doug and I have wondered if wheat would be a great Kaufmann 1 food if today’s wheat were identical to the wheat of Biblical days.
Speaking of the Bible, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few tidbits about foods and the Scriptures. The Eden diet was entirely plant-based. Years later, Moses was given dietary laws which gave the do’s and do-nots for Israel’s food choices. If you care to do the research, you may be surprised to know how well those foods translate to a healthy diet today – but with a few caveats. For example, the wheat that was permissible in the dietary laws does not resemble the wheat we are left with in modern America. The “clean” animals were fed their natural diet. Cattle ate grass. Fish were wild-caught. And the wild-caught “clean” fish back then didn’t contain the heavy metals and toxins in their flesh that they do today. The point is that we are left with only a faint reminder of the quality of the foods that they enjoyed when those laws were given. (The article I referenced in the opening paragraph said that shrimp was one of the foods to avoid – and was also prohibited in the Mosaic dietary laws. Interestingly, shellfish are known as the “vacuum cleaners” of the ocean. They attract the trash. One wonders if our ocean fish would be less contaminated with toxins if the “vacuum cleaners” were left to do their cleanup duties instead of being consumed as food. Just a thought.)
So, we live in an age of a diet of non-seasonality, genetic modifications, pesticides, and animals that neither eat their natural diet, live in pristine environments, nor escape artificial hormones and antibiotics. This is to say nothing of the cans of food that have a decade-long expiration date, packages of “cooked meat products” that require no refrigeration thanks to a slew of artificial “preserving” chemicals, dessert foods that are comprised of 51% food/49% chemicals, and portion sizes so large that they could easily feed two or three people. No, Americans generally aren’t going hungry or thirsty. Yes, it’s possible to eat inexpensively in America. But the net result of many of our practices is that we’re a culture that ignores or is ignorant of the most fundamental principle of natural health: Natural eating.
Today there are people dying because they lack basic, sound agricultural practices. Where this hurts is in the area of sanitation, clean water, drought mitigation, or even simple cultivation practices. I’m not so idealistic to think that America isn’t blessed beyond measure. There are people in hurricane-ravaged island count