Archive for Healthy Living

Grocery Store Wars – May the Force – and Sustainability – Be With You!

This video adeptly uses the Star Wars mythology to illustrate the state of our food system.

What can YOU do to combat the resistance?

  • Buy sustainable
  • Buy local
  • Buy organic
  • Avoid processed, packaged, genetically-modified foods
  • Eat traditional foods
  • Eat whole foods

How well do you know your food? Find out!

Whole and healthy meat…does it really exist?

Are you addicted to healthy shopping?

Is reactive medicine cheaper than prevention?

Comments (4) »

To Mammogram…Or Not

Indeed, cancer is a scary thing. For as long as I can remember, women have been advised to start getting mammograms over the age of 40 as part of a preventative program for reducing the risk of breast cancer and/or detecting it early enough to be able to go on the appropriate program to be able to remove it should it be found (i.e., chemotherapy, radiation).

Most people, including health educators, doctors, and patients in health communities believe that a major component of cancer development comes down to lifestyle habits. Yet, very little emphasis is actually placed on education about traditional foods as a healing tool and critical component of healthy living. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that breast cancer is responsible for affecting 1 out of every 8 women.

This last week, some breaking information was released from the mainstream medical communities cautioning women to receive fewer mammograms before age 50 than was previously recommended. This bulletin is not in keeping with the American Cancer Society’s recommendations.

As everyone knows, cancer is a complex disease and many factors are considered in the development of this disease, whether it be environmental, stress, genetic, diet, and other lifestyle habits. It is one of the most pervasive and deadly killers in the modern world.

There is an entire movement of health care professionals, patients, activists, and organizations working toward a “cure” for cancer. There are endless fundraisers and events centered around cancer prevention.   Billions upon billions of dollars are spent yearly on scientific research, drug development, and other activities – all in the name of curing cancer.

So why hasn’t a cure been found? Is it possible that a “cure” may not ever be found because we’ve been going about this at all the wrong angles?  Everything to do with cancer research is about removing it after it has already become a problem. And there’s a lot of money to be made in this realm.

What about preventing a problem before it happens? Sounds like a novel idea, doesn’t it?  Let’s take a look at what’s been happening on the mainstream medical fronts with cancer.

The National Cancer Institute reports the following:

“The most common type of cancer on the list is non-melanoma skin cancer, with more than 1,000,000 new cases expected in the United States in 2009. Non-melanoma skin cancers represent about half of all cancers diagnosed in this country.”

The skin cancer connection

Something many people aren’t aware of and doctors don’t certainly don’t emphasize is that most of these cancers are the benign variety – such as basal cell carcinoma, which is 99% treatable and slow-growing. My mother had one on her nose about 3 years ago, had it removed with outpatient surgery, and has not had a recurrence since.

Many people believe sun exposure causes skin cancer. So they slather on the sunscreen, blocking out the Vitamin D, which is, ironically, largely responsible for preventing cancer. And, it’s also strange that people who live in tropical locations experience the lowest rates of skin cancer in the world. Another fact that many people don’t know is that Melanoma – which is malignant – is most often found on parts of the body which receive the least amount of sun (National Library of Medicine).

New research suggests that a deficiency in Vitamin D is rampant in many countries and that lacking this important nutrient contributes to a myriad of diseases and conditions including Melanoma, Breast Cancer, Autism, Alzheimer’s. Over 40,000 Americans die annually as a result of  Vitamin D deficiency.  But we don’t hear the American Cancer Association talking about this. And, the risk of cancer actually lessens with more sun exposure – and no, we’re not talking about getting a severe sunburn, we’re talking about regular, repeated exposure to build up Vitamin D levels in the body.

Exposure to sun actually affects over 14 different types of cancer – including breast, prostate, bladder, ovarian, and digestive (source, Dr. William B. Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized expert and researcher on Vitamin D – SUNARC. Dr. Grant is the director director of SUNARC – the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, an organization which is involved in education, research, and advocacy relating to the prevention of chronic disease through changes in diet and lifestyle).

What can YOU do?

In my opinion, we can drive ourselves crazy reading statistics from mainstream health sources, or we can actually do something proactive to prevent cancer. So what can we do? What sort of power do we have over this disease?

As usual, mainstream medical communities offer little to no practical advice about what people can do to prevent cancer and live proactively. General statements are often made about living a healthy lifestyle and getting “health screenings”- but no emphasis WHATSOEVER is placed on reducing the toxic load of the body and eating nourishing, traditional foods.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, this is how you should go about preventing cancer:

  • stay out of the sun
  • avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption
  • eat “healthy” by limiting fat (with no mention about sustainable, organic foods or avoiding conventional or processed foods)
  • get immunized
  • avoid risky behaviors like drug use and unprotected sex
  • undergo screening procedures such as colonoscopies, pap tests, and mammograms

I believe people must take charge of their own health, and make definitive decisions about what kind of health they are going to have. As long as you leave the fate of your health in the hands of a medical doctor or any practitioner alone, you are risking your health.

Yes, I’m serious. And here’s why:

As a society, we have been made to feel powerless and helpless, and that we are unable to learn or know things for ourselves about our own bodies; and that we must rely upon some other expert to preserve our health.

My “cancer” scare

For the last five years, I’ve had a benign breast cyst. When I first discovered it, my lifestyle habits were pretty poor. Like most women, the discovery of a lump in my breast was terrifying. I read all I could about breast cancer and lumps in the breast before making an appointment to see a doctor. I spent about two weeks living in a panic as to whether I would be diagnosed with cancer. The stress of a situation like this alone can put the body under tremendous strain. In fact, stress directly contributes to disease. How many people have been in a similar situation –  waiting to hear from the doctor to receive a clean bill of health so you can “breathe a sigh of relief”?

My doctor was a GP, so he couldn’t give me a definitive answer. He ordered a mammogram. Until the procedure the following week at the hospital, I was a mess. My husband was unable to accompany me to the procedure, so I had to go alone. Sitting in that room waiting to have it done was awful. The procedure was long and painful (compression from the machine is not good for your breasts). After it was over and I got the result that the lump wasn’t cancerous, but only a fluid-filled cyst, I was relieved…but there was no information given about what could be done to reverse it or make it disappear. And that’s what I wanted.

Another year went by. The cyst got bigger and again I started to worry. I went back to the same doctor who ordered a second mammogram. Once again, I went to the hospital alone because my husband was unable to accompany me and endured one of the most stressful days of my life. This time, the lab technician performed an ultrasound as well as the mammogram. The results showed no cancerous findings.

The following year, the lump changed yet again, so I went back to the doctor. This time he referred me to a breast specialist and suggested yet another mammogram.  I had to wait about three weeks to see the specialist, but I decided against getting another mammogram.

The morning of my appointment, I was so worried I didn’t eat breakfast, and my stomach being empty only added to the growing sensation of nausea. This time, my husband came with me. I was asked all the usual questions by the nurse about my family history of breast cancer. She reviewed all the other items such as regular self-breast exams and checkups, etc. Then the doctor came in, checked the lump, and then reviewed the mammogram from the year before.  I was a shaking wreck as he did this, and wished more than anything that this moment in time would be gone and this would all go away.

His diagnosis was that he didn’t believe I had cancer, but that the finding was consistent with fibrocystic breast disease and I should have another mammogram. Keep in mind that at this point I was only 36 years old (age at which women are recommended to have annual mammograms is 40) with no history of breast cancer in my family, and had now received two mammograms showing no sign of cancer, yet this doctor was recommending that I go and have yet a third. So I explained my reasoning to him, along with my concerns about the exposure to radiation and compression of breast tissue in the x-ray device used for mammograms which could actually cause cancer.

All objections to the procedure were dismissed, and the the only response he could provide was that I had a responsibility to myself to perform this preventative measure. I had a responsibility? What about the doctors? Aren’t they responsible for providing the patient with reasonable answers and alternatives? The recommended “solution” didn’t solve my problem.  I pressed on, asking about environmental toxins and diet, and their effects on the development of cancer. His answer was brief and he insisted that there were just too many factors to solve for, and did not recommend any specific preventative measure…and that really it all boiled down to getting that mammogram.

By this time, I was crying and very angry. The nurse came back in as the doctor was leaving. She said she wanted to help me understand the importance of getting mammograms and prevention of problems before they occurred. She really believed what she was saying, but none of it made any sense to me. My husband even agreed that another mammogram seemed pretty pointless.

Although the nurse tried her best to be kind, and thought she was reassuring me that it was the right thing to do, I wasn’t buying it. She explained that she received mammograms each year because her mother died of breast cancer, and she had already had two lumps removed in her own breasts. To her, not getting another mammogram was like leaving the door open at night when criminals were out on the street. I came out and told her that I thought mammograms were dangerous and why. Of course, she thought I was insane.

Breast thermography

It really was just like talking to a wall. On the way out, she asked me to seriously reconsider the mammogram, and that she was going to give me a call in a week or two to see if I was willing to change my mind. If I had known then what I know now, I would have asked her why doctors place so little effort or educational emphasis on real food and healthy diets, and about breast thermography.

By the year 2007, I was learning even more about diet and lifestyle as it related to cancer and health. I also learned about an exciting procedure -FDA approved and has been used in Europe for decades – thermography. It is less expensive than mammograms, and can detect cancer up to 10 years before a mammogram. Why is this technology not being talked about more in medical communities? Because it doesn’t present any incentives for the drug companies. It is safe, painless, doesn’t compress the breast tissue, and doesn’t use radiation. The device is sensitive to blood vessel changes and measures heat temperatures in the body – temperature changes that are so subtle, it can indicate a development of pre-cancerous tissue.

I’m still living with the cyst, but I’m always living a preventative lifestyle and performing detoxification to help my body eliminate it over time. Because of poor lifestyle choices I made over many years, helping my body to remove the cyst and keep it from becoming cancerous will also take time.

Here’s my cancer prevention program:

  • Eat a healthy diet – and by healthy, I am referring to the absence of processed foods and refined sugars. My diet includes plenty of real, traditional foods such sustainable-raised grass-fed meats, raw, organic dairy from a clean source, poultry, game, lamb, safe-source fish and seafood, organic vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, and fruits. I also occasionally eat sprouted/soaked, organic grains.
  • I receive as much sun exposure as possible, and I don’t wear sunscreen. I also take Green Pastures Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil. This fantastic natural food contains Vitamins A, D, E, and K. My family also takes this supplement. Visit the Weston A. Price web site for detailed information about dosages for Vitamin D and Vitamin A, as well as other natural sources for these nutrients.
  • I drink plenty of filtered water (not bottled water) and avoid tap water.
  • I take Iodoral, an iodine supplement daily. My family also takes this supplement. Most people in developed countries are deficient in iodine, and iodine deficiencies are directly connected to the development of cancer and many degenerative diseases.
  • I have been using Gesterone Cream by Premier Research Labs. Natural progesterone is something many women are deficient in – usually due to hormonal imbalances which can cause cancer, and this nutritional supplement is more potent than synthetic pharmaceutical drug varieties of progesterone. The skin absorbs up to 10 times more than the digestive tract.
  • I am by no means a skilled athlete, but I maintain a schedule of regular exercise including horseback riding, bicycle riding, walking, hiking, and gardening.
  • I try to maintain a reasonable sleep pattern.  This is an area I need work on, because like many people, I stay up too late a lot and then have to rise early the next day. I don’t usually find that I am fatigued much, though, and I attribute this to my healthy diet and lifestyle.
  • I use few personal care products and chemicals in my home – I don’t use anything on my hair except organic shampoo, which I use only once or twice a week (I have dreadlocks, so hair washing is fairly infrequent…and no, my husband doesn’t think I smell). I don’t use expensive creams and solutions on my body except for extra virgin, raw coconut oil or olive oil. We use organic soaps and cleaning solutions in our home – and much of what we clean with is apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, and water. For more information about toxic load, read Your Toxic Load…How Does it Affect your Health?
  • We have completely eliminated plastic dishes and many other items from our home. We use as little plastic as possible in our refrigerator to store foods. Most of our kitchen dishes and materials are as follows: glass, pyrex, ceramic, cast iron, wood, stainless steel, wooden spoons, bamboo cutting boards, parchment paper for baking and wax paper and foil for storage.
  • We do not own a microwave oven. All of our food is prepared at home from scratch, unless we are heating up leftovers from food we have already made in our oven.
  • We do not use clock radios in our home. All clocks in our house are battery-operated with faces except for one digital readout we have on our oven in the kitchen. Clock radios, particularly close to your body for extended periods of time (as in, near your bed where you sleep) can emit continued, harmful amounts of radiation.

There are so many other sources of toxins, radiation, and other harmful substances which can lead to cancer. These items include but are not limited to: televisions, cell phones, land line-cordless phones, clock radios, wireless devices, and other electronic equipment, clothing, drapes and window treatments, bedding, furniture, toys, paint, and flooring in your home.

It’s true that we do have some of these items in our lives – in particular, cell phones, wireless devices, and computers because by profession my husband was in the computer science field for nearly 20 years. We have now switched gears and own a solar business, but find that the necessity for all of those devices has not gone away.  But I feel better knowing that as careful as we are in the other aspects of our lives, we are doing the most we can to reduce our toxic load and prevent cancer the best we can.

Have a story or advice you’d like to share that has been successful? I’m interested to hear everyone else’s tales about natural cancer treatments and prevention involving traditional foods and natural supplements that have assisted you on your journeys to better health.

Update! Breaking news about CT scans from the medical community – they are finally reporting that these procedures are linked to an increased risk in cancer.

This article is part of The Kathleen Show’s Prevention Not Prescriptions Carnival, and Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please visit these sites and read the informative posts featured there.

Comments (10) »

Fluoride in the Water – Does it Really Help Prevent Cavities?

Do you use fluoride toothpaste or drink tap water with fluoride in it? Does your dentist recommend fluoride treatments for your children when they have dental checkups? These common practices are what many people do and accept as a method of “preventative” dental care.  Ever since I was a child, the concept of having fluoride in my toothpaste and water to keep cavities away has been hammered into my head. However, fluoride is not only unnecessary, it is not a nutrient; it is in fact, a harmful chemical.

Here’s why:

In November of 2008, the Journal of the American Dental Association made the following statement based on the systematic review of fluoride supplement research: “There is weak and inconsistent evidence that the use of fluoride supplements prevents dental caries [cavities] in primary teeth.” Yet for some reason, dentists persist in trying to convince parents to allow them to apply fluoride treatments to their children (I know, I’m one of those parents!).

According to Midwestern Integrative Dentistry (Dr. Philip P. Sukel) the whole theory of fluoride being necessary to maintain dental health was never founded on hard scientific research. Instead, its push to be used in the prevention of dental caries has primarily been driven by financial interests and efforts to cover up gross errors made on endorsing its use.  Dr. Sukel’s assertion that even if a certain amount of fluoride were useful to the human body, receiving more of the chemical doesn’t make it more beneficial is definitely worth considering.

During the time period between 1990 and 1992, the Journal of the American Medical Association published three separate reports which connected an increase in the rates of hip fractures to the consumption of water containing fluoride. The March 22, 1990 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contained information from the Mayo Clinic stating that patients with osteoporosis who received fluoride treatment experienced an increase of hip fracture and bone weakening.

In a  2007, a statement was issued on the CDC web site (that received no media coverage) to warn the public about the following information:

“It now appears that the amount of the fluoride contained in the water used for mixing infant formula may influence a child’s risk for developing enamel fluorosis, particularly if the child’s sole source of nutrition is from reconstituted formula.”

“If tap water is fluoridated or has substantial natural fluoride (0.7 mg/L or higher), a parent may consider using a low-fluoride alternative water source. Bottled water known to be low in fluoride is labeled as purified deionized, de-mineralized, distilled, or prepared by reverse osmosis.”

“Using only water with low fluoride levels to mix formula will not eliminate the risk of enamel fluorisis…other factors that contribute to developing fluorisis include swallowing of toothpastse and use of dietary supplements that include fluoride (tablets or drops).”

And yet, how many medical or dental professionals are inclined to outwardly admit that fluoride is not only unnecessary but dangerous to your health? I’m betting most people hear just the opposite from their practitioners; that fluoride is still considered a necessary element toward wiping out tooth decay.

From the book titled Fluoride, The Aging Factor by Dr. John Yiamouyiannis, (1993) we learn how the consumption of fluoride destroys enzymes in the body and leads to a variety of diseases. Fluoride levels as low as 1 ppm cause the destruction of 30 percent of collagen – the most abundant protein in the body. It also causes irregular formation of collagen which provides major structural support to body components such as teeth, bone, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, tendons and and skin. Some side effects listed in the The United States Pharmacopoeia of drinking 1 to 2 pints daily of fluoridated tap water are as follows: stomach distress and cramps including nausea, faintness, bloody vomit, constipation, tremors, aching bones, stiffness, skin rash, weight loss, and brown or black discoloration of the teeth. The 1991 Physicians’ Desk Reference lists some of the same side effects from administered doses of fluoride.

Fluoride interferes with bonds responsible for maintenance of normal shape of proteins. When the protein becomes mutated, the immune system attacks it, and therefore, causes damage to the body’s own tissue and cells.

Fluoride (at 1 ppm) in drinking water has been reported to do the following:

  1. Damages the immune system by inhibiting the migration rate of white blood cells to infected areas;
  2. Interferes with phagocytosis (the destruction of bacteria and other foreign agents by white blood cells); and
  3. Induces the release of superoxide free radicals in resting white blood cells.

Because of this fluoride-induced situation, the body is subjected to foreign substances longer and also causes release of free radicals (which cause cancer and other diseases), and further accelerates the aging process.

Damage to the environment and health

One of the many examples of fluoride harming life is the incidence on August 25, 1961 where W.S. Meader and his wife May (near Pocatello, Idaho) took judgment through the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, against Food Machinery and Chemical Corporation for the amount of $57, 295.80 and against J.R. Simplot Corporation for $4,246.41. These corporations’ factories produced fluoride as a by-product in the form of both gaseous and solid compounds. The Meader trout farm and fish hatchery sustained serious damage from these substances. The fish eggs were described by court record as “worthless” and did not hatch normally. Furthermore, the fish that did successfully hatch were reported to have mutations. The owners of the hatchery removed about a ton of dead fish daily for a period of time. Levels of fluoride taken from water samples in the hatchery were between 0.5 and 4.7 ppm, which is the same as concentrations existing in food and beverages consumed by humans all over the country. In the end, the hatchery experienced a loss of business and livelihood.

The only fluoride naturally occurring in water is calcium fluoride, yet that type of fluoride is not used in fluoridation. The majority of what is used in municipal water systems is silicofluorides – these contain 85 times more toxins than calcium fluoride. These substances are pollution by-products of large corporations, do not biodegrade, and are considered hazardous waste products.

Cost of neutralizing these toxic substances to corporation? Per gallon, $1.40 – possibly higher if other toxic substances are present such as  uranium, lead, arsenic, and cadmium – at the highest-rated hazardous waste facility. These substances are purchased by cities and are then dumped into the water supply.  Silicofluorides contain toxic levels of those substances that are nearly as high as arsenic, and are more toxic than lead.

Recent reports from the EPA have stated that lowering levels of lead and arsenic within the water system are at a critical all-time high, and they would ideally like to see levels at zero parts per million. Given the toxic nature of silicofluorides (which contain arsenic and lead), it is absolutely inconceivable that anyone would pass recommendations to add them to our water supply.

The 2007 CDC information release caused some controversy within thinking health communities, and Paul Beeber, attorney and President of the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation asked an important question, “Where’s the media alert so that the parents, caregivers, healthcare workers and legislators know about this?” Beeber has been one of the most vocal opponents of water and supplement fluoridation.

“Americans are unaware that their arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome or other symptoms may be fluoride-related,” he said. “This information should be heeded by physicians and members of the medical and scientific communities.

“So there is no good reason to swallow fluoride via supplements or the water supply. Further, fluoride is neither a nutrient nor required for healthy teeth. Poor diets decay teeth and fluoride won’t stop that, ” Beeber said.

Various European countries have already eliminated fluoride from municipal water supplies: France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Italy.

What’s the solution?

Write to your state representatives and legislature and oppose fluoride in drinking water. Find out which politicians support non-fluoridation measures and those who are in favor of fluoridation, and keep sending correspondence. Don’t sign petitions in your local area advocating the adding of fluoride to your water system. Tell all your friends, family, and neighbors about the dangers of fluoridation in water.

At the dentist, decline to have fluoride treatments for your children. Although your dentist will surely try to talk you into it, resist anyway.

Use non-fluoridated toothpaste (read lables) or make your own.

Educate yourself on the ways to keep good dental health by following a diet that supports teeth and bone health. Research states that good nutrition prevents dental decay and bone problems.  In fact, studies of the diets of indigenous peoples around the world who eat traditional diets (research of Dr. Weston A. Price) have proven that dental and many other health issues are virtually non-existent when eating nutrionally-dense foods such as fish, eggs, butter, shellfish and organ meats.

Purchase a good quality filtration system for your home and don’t drink tap water. Some good quality brands include GE SmartWater filtration systems, Kangen Water, and visit Heart Spring for good general information about water filtration products.

After analyzing foods consumed by isolated primitive peoples, Dr. Price discovered that they provided at least four times the calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods originating from animals raised naturally. This was in contrast with the processed, additive-filled diet of Western citizens in developed countries who experienced heightened levels of dental issues including decay, malformation, and bone malstructure and loss. His record of detailing the extreme deterioration both physical and dental health of people who went from nutritionally-dense foods to processed foods is both startling and eye-opening.

Consider the amount of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugar consumed by the average citizen living in a developed country in the modern age. As technology continues to advance, more products are invented and the availability of products becomes more prevalent and widespread, we are exposed to more and more sugar than ever before in history.

Although overall sugar consumption has increased, the consumption of  real sugar has steadily declined over the years due to the advent of artificial sweeteners – and subsequently, we consume more of those – high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, fructose, aspartame, and saccharin has gone up. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, consumption of available calories from all forms of added sugars increased 17 percent from 1970 to 2006. When you consider just how much we consume, it is no wonder we have such high rates of tooth decay. The presence of fluoride does not affect this number.

Take the challenge to improve your diet which will have a profound effect on your health and your teeth. Read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price and learn about how you can take charge of your future and live a healthier life.

You may believe you have a healthy diet, and perhaps you do, but ask yourself the following questions about your diet and then go from there. Do you consume:

  • Processed foods
  • Sugary beverages
  • Foods with artificial sweeteners
  • Foods with refined sugars

If you are in the habit of consuming these types of foods regularly, ask yourself if you can replace them with the following:

  • Grass-fed meats from healthy animals raised without chemicals and additives, antibiotics and hormones
  • Pasture-raised poultry and eggs
  • Real milk and other dairy from pasture-raised cows (raw is a plus!)
  • Organic produce (fruits and vegetables)
  • Sprouted, organic whole grains from non-GMO sources
  • Real, whole fats like butter, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, lard, tallow, fish oil, and cod liver oil
  • Fermented foods such as real yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, natto, kombucha, or lacto-fermented vegetables

When you include real, nutrient dense foods in your diet, you will experience a decline in tooth decay and better health.

For more information about this topic, visit the Fluoride Alert web site and read the 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation.

Recommended reading on the subject of eliminating tooth decay naturally: (Rami Nagel) Cure Tooth Decay; Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition

This article is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit the other great real food posts there.

Comments (11) »

Eating Disorders – A Product of Modern Society

www.mypicshares.com

Has anyone ever asked you whether you have an eating disorder? These days, everyone seems to know someone with one, but eating disorders are much more common than people think. In the 1980s we saw an enormous surge of teenage girls described as having bulimia (binging and purging) and anorexia nervosa (starving oneself to death) in order to keep from being overweight. These were extreme examples of eating disorders.  But there are other eating disorders which may masquerade themselves very sneakily – so difficult to detect in fact, that you may not even realize you or someone else you know has it. The whole way our culture has evolved to regard and consume food can indeed be categorized as one enormous eating disorder. Why is this true?

On the go, no time to eat

Consider the way people live life in modern society – we are constantly taxed and on the go, doing more things each day than is humanely possible to accomplish. Our jobs are demanding and provide little opportunity for breaks, vacations, or rest.  Because we are so busy, that leaves little time for much of anything – especially preparing a nutritious, home-cooked meal.

Unless we pay attention to what we buy and are mindful of ingredients, even those of us who do prepare “home-cooked” meals can easily end up preparing food that is virtually devoid of nutrients. What we wind up eating, most of the time, falls into the category of convenience foods – foods that you don’t prepare from scratch and which come out of a package, can, or box.  And these foods are not natural nor nutritious. The convenience foods are, in fact, one of the main problems in our eating disorder. We have come to depend on and accept these foods for so many years, we believe them to be just fine and healthy to consume.

So what’s the result? Fatigue, weakened immune systems, shot adrenal glands, and susceptibility to health issues and disease. That describes our society very well. It goes without saying that when people become tired, they look for something quick and easy to eat – and that’s seldom a home-prepared meal with healthy and organic ingredients from scratch. Most of us reach for something easy to prepare out of a can, package, or box.

What many of use eat are “quick” foods like food bars, crackers, pretzels, cookies, muffins, processed bread (full of dough conditioner, high fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, etc.) with peanut butter (containing hydrogenated oils), shakes and smoothies with little to no real nutrition (loaded with artificially-produced carbohdyrates, denatured proteins, and a variety of other chemicals), conventional dried fruits (treated with sulfur and often containing pesticides), popsicles, fruit roll-ups or fruit “snacks”, and many other similar items. These foods are highly processed, devoid of nutrients, and if eaten regularly, will cause weight gain, irregular blood sugar (which can lead to diabetes), a disturbance in metabolic processes, and chronic health issues.

How have things changed since the last 160 years? Prior to industrialized society (mid 1800s), people generally ate foods off the land. They hunted, gathered, and prepared foods from their own homes and cooked from scratch. Literally everything people ate was from their own regions and made from real foods. There were no supermarkets, fast food restaurants, or processed, packaged foods. There were very little toxins, chemicals, or preservatives applied to foods. You either ate the food now, or it spoiled soon after. People who lived back then had relatively little incidence of heart disease. It wasn’t until the 1920s that heart disease began to surface as noticeable problem. Right about that time, processed vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates became more prevalent on the American market.

We count on the fact that many of the foods we purchase can sit on the shelf for months or years and we are able to consume it a long time after purchase. But here’s the important question we should all be asking: is this practice a good idea, and is it healthy? This question lends itself to the old saying – just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.

Eating disorders, dissected

When we hear the term eating disorder, we automatically think of a shrinking young girl who has taken to starvation or eating a lot of food and then purging as a way to stay thin.  But there are other ways in which eating disorders manifest. We have grown quite accustomed to making foods that have some component of convenience to them – such as bottled dressings and sauces, packaged side dishes, pasteurized dairy products of all types (cheeses, milk, sauces, butter and “butter” products), bread and grain products, powdered foods that we add to water, soups, broths, juices, and canned fruits and vegetables. We use these items in our kitchen and mistakenly believe we are eating healthy because we are cooking something at home; but what we fail to realize is that we are not really eating healthier than if we were eating at a restaurant or some other place where we don’t know how the food is prepared or where it comes from.

When we eat substances like this, we are effectively eating the same as we would elsewhere because we are using unnatural, convenience foods of all types and harming our health. When you use packaged foods which have become such an integral part of our modern life, we are consuming substances of which we don’t know their origin nor understand how they are created.  And many of these same types of foods are the same found in restaurants which serve food that is not typically healthy. This is just one component of our collective eating disorder.

Then there are the foods which seem natural and whole, but have a complete constituency of substances in them that are virtually “hidden” to the naked eye which are toxic and harmful to consume – meats, dairy products, grains, and fruits and vegetables. In the average grocery store, these foods are wrought with chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, steroids, pesticides, and a number of other undesirable, health-issue-causing additives.

The food may appear acceptable by appearance, it probably even smells and tastes normal – the meat may look robust and red in the packaging, the fruits and vegetables may seem fresh and colorful – but in reality, these foods are laden with toxic chemicals and have been altered from their original state intended by nature due to the use of substances which make growing, manufacturing and production of these foods “easier” and “cheaper” for the food corporations that sell them. But at what cost to the consumer and the environment? Here we have found one more component of the complicated eating disorder surrounding diets in developed countries.

The human body needs nutrients, not synthetics

Although each person’s body is individualized and has its own physiology, basic tenets of nutrition apply to what everyone needs to be healthy. People need fat, protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients like amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Many foods available in the modern age are typically less nutrient dense due to processing and toxin content, and because they are processed have a longer shelf life. In this instance, shelf life equals deterioration of food quality.

Do you know where it comes from?

Today, we purchase foods from the store that are shipped from all over the country and the world. We literally have no idea how long these foods have been sitting in the store nor where they come from, nor what has been done to them before they are delivered to the store.  Our purchasing and eating habits have so departed from how our ancestors did things, we go through our lives having no clue that much of what we are eating is toxic garbage. This should be disturbing to the average person, but we have become  conditioned to getting whatever we want whenever we want it, and having it taste just the right way (possible, of course, through the magic of taste engineering done in labs by scientists) – and we place that value far and beyond anything else when it comes to providing food for ourselves, that we don’t even stop to think about it.

Our focus has become centered upon how much fat and calories we consume, and less about the content of the foods we eat. So if we eat artificially-produced, processed foods, it really doesn’t matter how many calories or fat the food contains. Those nutrients (calories,proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) are empty and not nutritionally-dense. What’s more, those “foods” contain substances that are harmful to our health. Because they cannot be recognized by the human body as anything real, these synthetic substances become stored as fat in the cells and they also get absorbed into our bloodstream and affect our bodies in a negative way. Then they are able to cause damage in the form of free-radicals in the body.

How we are affected by our environment

As human beings, we desire to feel and look “right” according to the standards set forth by our expectations and culture. We are susceptible to the influence of many factors such as what  Mr. Jones down the road does or says, what the latest ad on television or a magazine tells us, and the rhetoric put forth by health and medical communities. We are totally unaware that most of what we are told to do by these parties is patently wrong and misleading. We spend money on fad diets, exercise regimens, health club memberships, advice, books, DVDs, treatments, and advice from so-called professionals or experts. Yet, we are some of the most unhealthy people on the planet and our obesity, heart disease, and cancer rates are rising each year.

People seldom stop to consider that all these compulsive things we do have a profoundly negative effect on health. We have been convinced and conditioned by media, experts, even our friends and family, that these are the right things to eat for our health. We don’t acknowledge that all of these things are completely unnatural and have undesirable consequences to our health – until we are forced by some serious illness or disease to do so. When we are diagnosed with something critical, we take it even one step further and go about treating it in the most unnatural way and the affects on our body can be devastating. We take dangerous drugs or have medical procedures that are costly. What we do to our bodies when they are compromised and sick can actually hinder the healing process completely and cause further complications or death.

The answer to our eating disorder

What can you do if you have an eating disorder? Remember, eating disorders can apply to those who are not in the extreme category as bulimia or anorexia. If you are eating real, whole foods containing fats, protein, and calories produced the way nature intended, your body recognizes these substances and the nutrients are real as well. Further, you don’t have to worry about “counting calories” and fat grams. Because the nutrients are real, your body can use them in a way that is helpful to the body, and is therefore life-giving. It has become unfashionable to eat real food, and now our stores and grocery centers are filled with a plethora of products to “make our lives better”, “healthier”, and more convenient. Because we have lost touch with where our food comes from and how it is grown and produced, we have in turn lost an important part of ourselves – our health.

The way to disable the eating disorder and get our health back is to start learning about where our food comes from and how the producers produce it. By making blind purchases at the grocery store and believing labels we read and advertisements we see or hear, we are falling victim to the marketing schemes of the modern world. We are allowing ourselves to consume food that is not really food. As a result, our health declines. And low and behold…we find ourselves right in the midst of an eating disorder without even realizing it. Good rules to follow are to read labels and don’t buy anything with more than five ingredients or containing something that you don’t recognize. When we return to real food, we return to health. Here’s how:

  1. Get to know local farmers, food growers, and merchants. Pay a visit to your local farm or farmer’s market.
  2. Do some research in your local area to find out where else you can purchase real food. Check the Internet, newspaper, and with people you know.
  3. Stop buying packaged, processed foods, or at the very least, reduce your buying of these items considerably.
  4. Look for natural, healthy foods at your local store such as grass-fed meats, organic fruits and vegetables, and whole grains in bulk.
  5. Educate yourself about how to prepare foods from scratch. There are a wealth of resources available on the web, at the library, and within your local community for free. Check out our recipes on this web site.
  6. Commit to yourself and your family to take time for these important activities. They may take extra time and a bit more effort, but the end result is better health and state of mind.
  7. If you find that making many changes all at once is overwhelming, select two or three things to change about your lifestyle, approach to eating, and overall health mentality, and build on those choices over time by adding a few more things each week or month as you are able. For some ideas about building your homekeeping skills, read: Embrace and Perfect Your Homekeeping Skills.
  8. Do look at organic, whole, traditional foods as your body’s friend. They are nutritious, wholesome, and deliver the right health benefits to your body. Avoid old thinking patterns about foods you may have been taught over your lifetime such as fats, cholesterol, and calories are unhealthy. The only fats, cholesterol, and calories that are unhealthy to consume are those that are artificially-produced. Read this article: The Importance of Dietary Fats. For more information about types of foods, read: How Well Do You Know Your Food? Find Out!
  9. Keep in mind that in general, the modern way of life is neither how our bodies were designed to be cared for nor the way we were intended to maintain our environments and look after nature. Do everything you can to scale back your lifestyle efforts so that you can defeat eating disorders, care for the earth, restore health, and return to a more natural way of existence.

This article is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit Food Renegade and read the other real food articles linked there.

Comments (2) »

Want to Lose Weight? DETOX!

Are you constantly trying to manage your weight and feel as though you can never get rid of excess pounds? The battle you are fighting might just have more to do with toxins in your body than being “fat” or the amount of exercise you are getting.  It’s time to take a good look at the chemical load you are placing on your body each and every day, and its impact on your weight.

Everything in our environment plays a critical role on our weight, believe it or not – and not just the food we eat and the amount of exercise we get – the air we breathe, the products we use in our homes and places of business, the water we drink, the water we use for washing and bathing, and everything in our environment can affect our weight. Something has to convince our population that our collective weight problem is not because of saturated fat and lack of enough exercise – it’s from all the toxins we continually dump into our bodies and all the toxins around us in the environment. What we are eating is mostly garbage – from our meat and dairy supply to our fruits and vegetables – full of chemicals and toxins. Our food isn’t food anymore!

What about saturated fat?

If the problem were as a result of eating too much saturated fat – there would be an abundance of evidence – but everywhere you look medical and health professionals advise people to eat less saturated fat and cholesterol, eat low-fat foods, load up on “healthy” polyunsaturated fats – and the products available in the stores are marketed to that end, and people are buying them. So let’s ask a very important question – if saturated fat is the enemy, and we’re all avoiding it as we’ve been told, why do we have the epic obesity problem we do? Our real problem lies in what  foods we are eating – industrially-produced, food-like substances that contain no real nutrients or minerals, fat, protein, or calories. The reality is, saturated fat from healthy sources is and always will be an essential building block of health. We cannot live (very well) without it!

Getting enough fiber?

We have other problems too, such as that we are receiving far less fiber than we need and are consuming massive amounts of sugar in our daily diets in the form of various sweeteners, grain products, refined flours, and the saturated fat and protein foods we are eating are the wrong kinds (from pollluted, factory farms) – and of course the portions are staggeringly large. If people ate healthy, saturated fats and proteins, their bodies would feel full at appropriate levels. But with factory farm food, your body never feels full (big surprise, because it’s not real food!) so you keep eating and eating.

Then there’s the fact that we are told to eat low-carbohydrate foods – so we do this, and it puts a tremendous strain on our digestive tract – liver, colon, gallbladder, and pancreas. Even though you may come across people who claim to have lost weight on low-carb plans, in the long run, the repercussions of such diets on health are extremely harmful at best.

What’s the solution?

Ann Louise Gittleman, author of The Fast Track Detox Diet, believes the connection between weight and toxicity is critical – “The more toxic your body becomes, the more difficulty you’ll have losing weight.” We pollute ourselves everyday with all the things around us – and that these substances are stored as fat in our cells. In her book, Gittleman goes in-depth about all the different toxins in our world and how they affect our health and our weight – from the foods we eat to the water we drink to the products we use in our homes and places of business.

Many people who are considered obese or overweight are not really suffering from simply being fat – they are suffering from toxin overload in their cells. More than sixty different diseases are tied to being overweight. The United States has some of the highest obesity rates in the world. Over 60 percent are overweight and at least 30 percent of adults are obese. Nearly 20 million children are also in that category.

A well-known author and one of the country’s most respected nutritionists, Gittleman offers a treatment of detoxification that is thorough and easy to understand. Using whole, traditional foods, she will expertly guide you through a straight-forward detoxification that includes a healthy diet designed to support your nutritional and health needs before, during, and after the detox. The plan she has created involves an 11-day regimen where only one of those days requires fasting. Fasting is an ancient and timeless practice used by peoples all around the planet as a means to encourage the body to purge unwanted substances and return to a state of health. The remaining days include a diet replete with real, whole foods to boost your metabolism and continue the process of removing dangerous toxins from your body that are ruining your health.

How does detoxing work?

One of the basic premises of detoxing is giving up certain foods and beverages in your diet in order to allow your body to purge the unhealthy substances it is holding onto – and with the intent  that you will not just abandon these foods for the detox, but that you will embrace this new way of eating, a lifestyle we will call it, for the remainder of your earthly days. After all, leaving these foods behind only for the purposes of detoxing defeats the purpose of the important work you will do for your body. It would only undermine your efforts and cause you to have to start over. What a waste of time, money, and health! Instead of the unhealthy choices, then, you replace (hopefully for good) the food you’ve been eating with nutrient dense, organic, whole, traditional foods.

What foods do you have to give up? Processed,  industrially-produced, nutritionally-empty foods including, but not limited to:

  • processed grain products like pasta, crackers, most breads, packaged cereals
  • food bars
  • bottled dressings and sauces
  • sugary beverages (including juice)
  • processed dairy including milk, cheese, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt
  • industrially-produced factory meats, fish, poultry, and eggs
  • conventionally-grown produce (fruits and vegetables)
  • any other food that is processed or contains chemicals or toxins (read labels and avoid foods in packages, cans, or boxes)

If this sounds difficult to do, consider the alternative which is living a life filled with health issues and disease. Which would you choose?

Colon health support is important

Make sure you are getting enough fiber Fiber supports the function your colon was intended to doThere are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Insoluble fiber carries out toxins with it (fecal matter) when it goes. Here are some good insoluble fiber sources: whole grains, vegetables, seeds, lignans, cellulose, and bran.

Soluble fiber is softer and can be dissolved in water. This type of fiber boosts our supply of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract, helping our system maintain proper digestion and immune function. Good sources for soluble fiber include: fruits, legumes and oats (soaked overnight in purified water and whey, kefir, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice), and some raw nuts and seeds (soaked and dehydrated). Fiber is important because it helps the body to slow down our metabolization of food which in turn balances our blood sugar. Fiber also insures the food goes through our digestive tract at a rate fast enough to prevent  food from rotting and building up toxins. If you have ever doubted, do not now – adequate fiber prevents heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and many other health problems.

If you believe the health of your colon doesn’t affect your overall health, consider the rising number of incidences of digestive diseases such as IBS, celiac disorder, Crohn’s, and irritable bowel, not to mention colon cancer. Colon cancer in people under 50 is actually on the increase – despite the recommendation by physicians for patients to receive colon screenings and tests. And remember that when doctors do find cancer in colon screenings, the solution offered is usually drugs or surgery. Drugs and surgery are not going to solve the inherent problem that is causing the cancer – they will only temporarily diffuse those issues, and in most cases, make problems worse by destroying the immune system.

Rarely is much emphasis placed on a truly healthy diet and lifestyle. It should be obvious that if you have a blocked colon (and most people in developed countries do), your health cannot function optimally. As a result, if you do not take care in what you eat, you will suffer from these illnesses.

Liver support is critical too

Your liver is the largest organ in your body, and must conduct an enormous amount of filtering of toxins to keep your body healthy. If you have a clogged colon, your liver will have to deal with more toxins that are absorbed into your bloodstream because your colon cannot adequately perform its own function. This is when the liver becomes overloaded and health issues take over.  And this is also where weight gain can occur.

What types of foods support liver function? Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli sprouts. Then there’s the green leafies like chard, kale, parsley, beet greens, collard greens, escarole, dandelion and mustard greens. Citrus fruits are important too – lemons, oranges, and limes. You also need foods containing sulfur such as onions, raw garlic, daikon radish, and eggs. Finally, you need to include other foods like artichoke, celery, asparagus, beets, whey, dandelion root tea, and nutritional yeast flakes.

So how do you lose toxins, maintain health, and also lose weight?

  • You must be willing to detox yourself and rid your body of the harmful chemicals that are keeping you from health and your optimal weight.
  • You must be willing to give up processed foods, and learn about and eat healthier choices – grass-fed meats and pasture-raised poultry, organically produced fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds, unpasteurized raw dairy products from a safe source, and naturally fermented foods with probiotics like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented vegetables.
  • You must be willing to look at getting healthy as a holistic activity – that everything you do affects your body and your weight. If you are only willing to cut out a couple of things and keep everything else the same, your chances of success will be low.
  • You must be willing to commit yourself to a lifestyle change after detox. The detox is just the beginning, not a one-time activity you engage in and then return to old habits. For most people, one detox is not going to do the trick, either. A lifetime of poor eating habits and bad nutrition pollute our bodies to such an extent that we need a great deal of detoxing. Health maintenance and support relies on your promise to your body and yourself to make permanent changes necessary to maintain health that will bring about wellness you never realized could be possible.

This is why in any lifestyle change plan, your goal should not be to lose weight – it should be to remove toxins and become healthier. As a result of doing this, you will lose weight if your body needs to do so – and it will be a natural by-product of elminating all the toxic chemicals residing in your tissues and cells causing you illness, disease, and yes, inability to maintain your natural weight. If you continue to engage in fad diets to lose weight, you will constantly be battling health problems and you will never be able to really lose the weight you want.

For more information on toxins and chemical loads in the body and our environment, read Your Toxic Load: How Does it Affect Your Health?

For more information on cleansing and detoxification, read How Cleansing Positively Affects Your Health

Comments (4) »

Being a Food Activist in a World Driven by Tradition, Control, & Profit

Do you wonder about where your food comes from? Are you frustrated by the current system managing our food supply? Do you find that obtaining food from a reputable, healthy source seems difficult and you desire to make a change? Do you believe everyone has a right to safe food from clean sources? If you answered yes to these questions, you might be a food activist.

Lately, food has become very political and having an opinion on food can actually lead to a great deal of dissension in relationships with other people, groups, and organizations. But through activism, persistence, and education, we really can make a difference and change the way our food is produced for the common good. Being a food activist is not easy, but it’s worth the effort. Here’s why:

What is a food activist?

A food activist is someone who cares about where our food comes from and who makes a conscientious effort to support local and sustainable agriculture whether it be to become an actual sustainable farmer or food producer, or to be a consumer of sustainable products. A food activist also becomes involved in some way with education and dissemination of information about sustainable living and food to the public and wider communities.

Why should we care where our food comes from, and what difference does it make being a food activist?

The loss of local food production has been devastating.  Diminished food production causes the necessity for our food to travel lengthy distances over many days or weeks to reach your dinner table. The result of this travel and toxin exposure is the loss of nutritional density and flavor. Distance traveled by our food also contributes to wastes of energy that can only be maintained by government subsidies and the acquisition of cheaper oil which is dictated by foreign policy. The Worldwatch Institute reports “in the United States, refrigerating, transporting, and storing food uses eight times as much energy as is provided by the food itself.”

Indeed, industrial farming has had widespread implications:

  • The presence of this type of toxic farming has not only led to the destruction of our soil, but also our water, and air.
  • Pesticides sprayed on commercial crops are then fed to animals. This causes health problems for the animals and you when you eat the meat and other products from these animals.
  • The use of medications and antibiotics in animal production is heavy and has contributed to resistant-strain bacteria. We are also finding that increasing amounts of our foods contain chemicals, preservatives, stabilizers, and toxins which cause further damage to our health and the environment.
  • Factory farms also contribute greatly to the overall human-caused component of climate change occurring.
  • The economic impact of industrial farming is also substantial, and it should be noted that the far-reaching implications of all factors mentioned here only add to the weighty economic burden in which our nation now finds itself.

Who stands to gain from all of this?

None other than agribusiness giants, food manufacturers, processors, and related corporations, lobbyists, special interest groups, and the government. All are pushing and making legal unethical ideals, practices, regulations, and laws in exchange for power and profit.

Who loses in the conventional, industrial food system?

The environment due to the input of massive toxic chemicals, mismanagement of resources, and the accumulation of concentrated animal wastes. Since 1960, half of our topsoil has disappeared. We are currently experiencing the loss of topsoil 17 times faster than it can be replaced.

Farmers industrial farming only pays the farmer 7 cents per food dollar. The majority is paid to marketers, processors, and input suppliers. The result is a dramatic concentration of factory and industrial farmland as well as the loss of smaller, family farms. The region of western North Carolina alone has experienced a loss of 70% of farmland in the last 50 years.

The consumer because the food we consume is now developed and grown for transportation and shelf life rather than for nutrition or taste, we lose control of how food is produced because we no longer have a relationship with the farmers who produce our food. We have experienced a loss of countryside, forests, and of farms. Most significant of all, our health is profoundly impacted by the mechanism of factory, for-profit, and industrial farming. Our life spans are longer, but we are now experiencing degenerative and chronic diseases at a larger and more frequent rate than ever before in history. Our children are also now developing these disorders at younger ages than the previous generation.

The animals in industrial farming, animals are treated in the most inhumane manner and live in ghastly conditions. They are not allowed to behave normally, are exposed to filthy environments, are often subjected to gross abuse and neglect, and by these standards are unable to live happy lives (and sometimes they don’t even get exposed to sunlight). There’s only one question to ask here – Do you really want to support business that makes money in this manner and consume meat coming from animals in these conditions?

What can YOU do to help our food system?

Eat local food! The biggest criticism people have about sustainable and organic food is that there is no feasible way to feed organic, healthy food to everyone. But if each community started supporting their own local agriculture, food growers, and merchants, we’d find that assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth. The whole point of supporting local efforts to grow and produce food is just that – when you support it, it thrives and feeds its community.

It’s really quite simple,  but has become complicated by arcane laws and regulations that were originally put into place to feed massive amounts of people for the cheapest price – and allowing the almighty dollar to be the prevailing factor - which has now completely overtaken our health care and food systems like never before in history. When you place profit over health and well-being, there will always be consequences.

Do research online to locate local, sustainable farmers and food producers. EVERY community has them. Many communities now have weekly farmer’s markets where farmers and merchants come together in one convenient location to offer the best of your community.

Don’t be discouraged by the mantra you may hear from some people who say that eating healthier is more expensive. Eating healthy can cost more up front, but it doesn’t always have to be incredibly expensive. You can also find economical buys and deals within your local community because the food doesn’t have to travel (remember, food costs more if it has to travel from somewhere else).

Learn to do everything from scratch at home soak or sprout your own grains, sprout, ferment, make yogurt, make lacto-fermented vegetables with whey from your raw milk or home made yogurt, etc. If you don’t know how, do a search online – there is a wealth of information available at your fingertips for free.

Don’t forget the hidden costs of eating industrial food environment, economic impact, taxes, the health care system, your own health, etc. These are all costs that must be accounted for – and even if it’s not now, a day will come , whether it is in the near or distant future, when the cost must be paid by YOU.

Join organizations and spread the word! Learn about local and national that place an emphasis on fighting for safe, sustainable food:

Start a garden or join a community garden group. Try the American Community Garden web site. Visit the Backyard Gardener site for a wealth of information about getting started and maintaining your own garden.

Start a blog, write articles, or write a book. There is always more room in the world for good writers who can convey their thoughts to others and motivate people through the written word.

Read books, watch films, and educate yourself on the issues. Some great places to start are The Ominvore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Also look for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and Edible Action: Food Activism and Alternative Economics by Sally Miller and The End of Food by Paul Roberts. Great films include Food, Inc., King Corn, SuperSize Me, Fresh, Fast Food Nation, Fat Head, and The Oiling of America.

Learn about the laws and regulations governing our food, sign petitions (Just Food: Food & Farm Issues and Food Democracy Now ) and contact your congressmen, local legislature, and the President. Visit the USDA and FDA web sites and contact these agencies with questions and concerns.

This article is featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please go visit Kristen’s site and have a look at all the other great real food posts there.

Do you have experiences with food activism that you’d like to share? How have your efforts made a difference? We want to hear from you!

Comments (5) »

Time and Money Saving Tips – Getting the Most out of Your Vegetables

We love vegetables, right? Vegetables are an important source of nutrients in our diet. They add flavor and texture as well as nutrition to our everyday meals. Daily servings should be 7 – 9 for adults and 5 – 7 for children.

Here are some ideas for choosing vegetables:

Buy organic. Organic foods are more nutritious because they are grown in soil containing more diverse organisms due to the use of organic fertilizers and soil enrichment. Produce farmed with organic methods tastes better because it contains more nutrients. Organic farming prohibits the use of pesticides, chemicals, and genetically-modified organisms as well.

The Journal of Applied Nutrition published a study examining organic apples, pear, potatoes, wheat, and sweet corn and compared the specific nutrients and their levels compared to conventional counterparts produced with modern farming methods. Here’s what was discovered: chromium was listed as 78 percent higher in organic foods. The study also revealed Calcium to be 63 percent higher in organic foods, and Magnesium was found to be 138 percent higher in organic foods. In other studies, the use of pesticides was also found to have an effect on lowering levels of certain vitamins including B vitamins, vitamin C, and beta-carotene in fruits and vegetables. Organic produce contains higher levels of antioxidants and flavonoids which prevent degenerative disease from developing, and higher levels of beneficial minerals such as zinc and iron.

Buy in season. When you purchase in season produce, your vegetables are fresher and often cheaper in price. Vegetables that are not in season and have to be brought in from far away places are not as fresh and often become contaminated with toxins from their travel (which is not only bad for us, but the environment as well!). Seasons deliver a natural diversity to vegetables that contributes to their healthful properties.

  • Spring time – green leafy vegetables such as romaine lettuces, red and green leafs, chard, bok choy, mustard/collard/beet greens, and herbs like basil and parsley
  • Summer – summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and corn; try spices and seasonings like peppermint and cilantro
  • Fall – harvest foods like carrot, pumpkins, squash, sweet potato, beets, onions, and garlic. Try warming spices and seasonings such as ginger, mustard seeds, and peppercorns
  • In winter, turn even more exclusively toward warming foods and those vegetables which you have canned or jarred. Foods that require a longer growing period are typically more warming than foods which grow more quickly: root vegetables including parsnips, carrot, potato, onions and garlic.

When you are ready to prepare:

  • Eat vegetables raw individually or in a salad with homemade dressing. Homemade dressing is easy to make, cheaper than the bottled variety, and much more nutritious. Use your favorite type of vinegar(s) and olive oil. Add your oil to to a bowl and then the vinegar (2:1 ratio). Add a bit of salt, pepper, fresh garlic, and herbs and spices to your mix. Whisk together and pour over your salad – or dip a carrot or piece of broccoli into the bowl.
  • Steam vegetables with water and sea salt, and when you are ready to serve them, add a generous amount of real, grass-fed butter. The fat-soluble vitamins in butter help to absorb the nutrients in your vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, and peas.
  • Sautee your vegetables in coconut or olive oil or real butter. Add natural herbs and spices from your garden such as thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, rosemary, and a clove of garlic. Coconut and olive oils are two of the healthiest and tastiest oils you can consume.
  • If you have children, make eating vegetables fun. Cut up raw vegetables into little pieces and make kabobs on toothpicks and provide a healthy, homemade salad dressing (see above) for dipping. Little ones love organic raw almond butter for dipping vegetables. Also try homemade hummus with olive oil or salsa. Some meals lend themselves to “sneaking” in vegetables your children might otherwise not try. Use zucchini chopped up finely in marinara meat sauces, or finely chopped spinach in soups and casseroles.
  • Make lacto-fermented vegetables. Lacto-fermentation involves the use of salt and whey (the naturally-occurring protein in milk). According to Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions:

“Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. Starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted into lactic acid by the many species of lactic-acid producing bacteria. These lactobacilli are ubiquitous, present on the surface of all living things and especially numerous on leaves and roots of plants growing in or near the ground. Man needs only to learn the techniques for controlling and encouraging their proliferation to put them to his own use, just as he has learned to put certain yeasts to use in converting the sugars in grape juice to alcohol in wine. “

Adding whey to vegetables, then, is a way to increase their nutritional potential while at the same time, adding fantastic flavor to your creation. Ancient Greeks Romans, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Russia, and Poland alike used this practice for its medicinal qualities, and indeed, the result is a wondrous occurrence that produces natural antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. Lactic acid – the main by-product of this process – causes an increase in digestibility and vitamin levels, as well as promoting the growth of healthy intestinal flora. It is one of nature’s most perfect health foods.

Here is a recipe for making whey:

  1. Use good quality yogurt (homemade or store bought, unhomogenized, from whole milk) for making your whey.
  2. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and pour yogurt into it (over a bowl).
  3. Cover the yogurt with a plate and allow to sit at room temperature for 12 -24 hours. During this time the whey will run out.
  4. After the whey has drained into the bowl, secure and tie the cheese cloth or linen towel with the milk solids inside (use care not to squeeze its contents).
  5. Tie the sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of a bowl or pitcher to allow more of the whey to escape from the bag.
  6. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready.  Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in a covered glass container.

Refrigerated, the yogurt cheese will keep for about 1 month; whey will keep for approximately 6 months.

Here are some recipes for sauerkraut, ginger carrots, and pickled cucumbers (courtesy of Nourishing Traditions):

Sauerkraut

  • 1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon whey (if not available, use 1 additional tablespoon of sea salt)

In a bowl, mix cabbage with caraway seeds, sea salt, and whey. Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release the juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. The sauerkraut may be eaten immediately, but it improves with age.

Ginger carrots

  • 4 cups grated carrots, tightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons whey (if not available, use 1 additional tablespoon of sea salt)

In a bowl, mix all ingredients and pound with a wooden pounder  or a meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices cover the carrots. The top of the carrots should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. Makes 1 quart

Pickled cucumbers

  • 4 – 5 pickling cucumbers or 15-20 gherkins
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, snipped
  • 1 tablespoons of sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons of whey (add 1 additional tablespoon of salt if whey is not available)
  • 1 cup of filtered water

Wash cucumbers well and place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumbers, adding more water if necessary to cover the cucumbers. The top of the liquid should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Leave a comment »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.