Guide to Eating Naturally
In just a few generations, we have completely transformed what, when and how we eat. We get most of our food from supermarkets and those foods contain chemicals, additives and sweeteners. We eat that stuff along with fried and fast foods. We eat in our cars, at our desks and in front of the TV. We’re usually in such a hurry, we don’t chew our food properly, nor do we take the time to enjoy, smell or taste it. This is why a lot of people nowadays spend time at doctors’ offices complaining of upset stomachs, constipation and many other digestive disorders. It’s time we made this connection and start to remedy it. Better food, eaten in a relaxed atmosphere, equals better health.
Our ancestors ate food as nature produced it. They ate whole and unprocessed vegetables, fruit, grains and beans, and animal foods. Their diet was loaded with nutrients. They occasionally ate sugar and honey and wine and beer, but these weren’t everyday foods consumed in large quantities. Additionally, our ancestors balanced their diets with regular physical labor – men, women and children – from sunrise to sunset. Their lives were active and healthy.
Organic vs. Non-Organic
Today we eat many foods that are processed and processing strips the nutrients that we desperately need to be healthy. Moreover, processing foods usually involves adding sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives, which studies have shown to be detrimental to health. Take bread for example. Store-bought white bread can sit on the shelf for about 21 days before it loses its moisture and gets hard. That’s because the wheat bran and the germ (parts of the grain) have been removed during the milling process. Manufacturers remove these parts to create lighter, fluffier bread and to extend its shelf-life. A large portion of the nutrients in the wheat come from these parts. They then reintroduce some nutrients (called enriching), but they can’t possibly reintroduce all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and fiber that the original plant source contained.
What we buy in the supermarket may look like food, and it may taste like food, but it’s certainly not the food our ancestors ate. There are a multitude of bright, colorful boxes of every size and shape with catchy slogans on the outside and chemical additives on the inside. Unless you buy organic, even the fruits and vegetables are shiny, perfect and all the same size due to conventional farming practices and genetically modified produce. If you haven’t tried organic fruits and vegetables, do a taste test. The next time you grocery shop buy an organic apple and a non-organic apple and taste both. Organic foods taste cleaner and more flavorful. They have more energy than conventionally grown foods, which have lost much of their life-force through chemical treatment and modification. The average conventionally grown apple has 20 to 30 artificial chemicals on its skin, even after rinsing. Also these chemicals find their way inside the apples in the growing process. Think how good your own home-grown vegetables taste compared to the ‘pretty’ ones from the grocery store.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are any organism in which the genetic material has been altered or shuffled around in a way that does not occur naturally. This science is used to cultivate GM plants, which are then used to grow GM food crops. The most common of these GM crops in the U.S. are canola, corn, and soy. These are used in many processed foods, and many experts estimate that about 70 percent of the foods in grocery stores in the U. S. and Canada contain genetically engineered ingredients. Food safety experts during the past decade have identified several potential problems with GMO food crops. These problems include the possibility of introducing new toxins or allergens into previously safe foods, increasing toxins to dangerous levels in foods that typically produce harmless amounts or diminishing foods’ nutritional values. When shopping, look for labels that say “GMO free” or organic.
Organic farming doesn’t depend on synthetic pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers or hormones so therefore the food doesn’t contain these unnatural things. Also, fresh, organic produce contains more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micronutrients than non-organic produce.
Our food choices also have an effect on our environment. Large corporate grocery stores ship foods in from all over the world on a daily basis using enormous amounts of energy to do so. The cattle industry is another area that requires huge amounts of energy and resources. Cattle require huge amounts of water every day, they need land for grazing and each cow consumes about 25 pounds of corn each day, which translates into a lot of fossil fuel energy. The leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is cattle ranching. What can we do to help? Cutting back on buying beef can save water and energy, even if it’s just 5 pounds of beef a year! Another option is to look for meat that is grass-fed, certified organic and local, whenever possible.
Our ancestors ate seasonally because they had no choice, but this was not a bad thing. They ate fresh greens in spring, ripe fruit in summer, root vegetables in the fall and they relied on animal food in the winter. These foods in these seasons agreed with the body. For instance, in the wintertime, it’s natural to crave animal food because that’s when the body needs to feel more solid and insulated from the cold. Humans need more fat during the winter. Ripe fruits are ‘cooling’ foods and therefore good for you during the hot summertime. Your body knows what it wants and needs if you will only listen to it. Experiment with foods every season and see which ones make you feel energetic and which make you feel tired.