The most destructive and unhealthy diet anyone has ever been on is the SAD; IE, the Standard American Diet. It really is the worst diet in the world. Looking around you can see the effects of the SAD on peoples’ bodies. Health statistics reflect the effects on our health and longevity. Nearly 50% of Americans have a diagnosis of at least one chronic disease. The number of children with a diagnosis of chronic disease is growing at an alarming rate. Heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune diseases of many descriptions, and cancer have skyrocketed.
You may hear that it is our genes, but just a couple of generations ago these diseases were rare, if not unknown. Our genes don’t change that fast.
What has changed?
So, what has changed? Our diet? The way we grow our foods? Our lifestyle?
Our diet now contains an alarming amount of processed food. Or, as some people say, processed food-like substances.
Think about your grandparents or great grandparents. Imagine walking with them through a grocery store. Would they even recognize most of the things we mindlessly put in our carts? Would they be able to read the multi-syllable words of the chemicals listed as ingredients on the packages? Chances are they wouldn’t. I think my grandparents and great grandparents would be appalled at the lack of real food in the grocery store.
I talked to my sister-in-law about this recently. We walked through this scenario. She reflected that when she was growing up, they ate what they grew. They had a big garden and her Mama canned or preserved the bounty of the harvest for the winter. They raised a hog and had it processed to provide meat for the family. They raised chickens and had eggs. The bought some things from the grocery store or traded with neighbors for other things. She began to see the connection with that simple food diet and the health her family enjoyed.
Good not Cheap
The way we grow food also influences the SAD. Commercial farming practices rely heavily on chemical inputs to provide plant nutrients. More chemicals are used to suppress diseases and pests, and to keep the cost of food down. All the emphasis is on profit with little or no care about the nutrient value of the food or the effect these practices have on the end users, us. Cheap food doesn’t translate into GOOD food. Commercial farming practices have depleted the soil of minerals. The chemicals used have killed many of the beneficial and necessary organisms in the soil that provide nutrients to growing plants.
Most of us don’t live on a farm or even on an acre or two where we can put in a large garden to supply food for our families. We depend on others to produce our food, and we trust them to provide food that he nutritious. We want to believe that they have our best interest in heart, rather than corporate profits. What were we thinking? But that is another soapbox.
Our lifestyles have also changed significantly in the last half-century. We are more stressed and busier than generations in the past. We are less at peace. We are multi-tasking and driving through fast food lanes so we can eat in the car on the way to our next meeting, practice or appointment. Many of us are stuck indoors, separated from nature all day. Our days are spent looking at electronics with little communications with others.
Some of these things we can’t change. Most of us must work. We can’t drop everything and move to the country and live off the land. What we can change is the food we buy. Concentrate on real food. Food your grandparents and great grandparents would recognize as food. They might not recognize kohlrabi or jicama, but they would at least recognize them as foods. Buy local from farmers’ markets. Download the list of the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen from the Environmental Working group. Buy organic as much as you can. Plant a garden. If not a garden, a pot on the patio. Grow something. The satisfaction of eating something you grow yourself will add to your peace. Spending time tending it will give you a few minutes in the sunshine.
What’s in a name?
Almost all the diets in the news today have one thing in common. Real food. This common theme running through very different approaches such as Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, and even several variations of vegetarian and vegan diets should be telling us something. Real food matters. It matters for our families and us.
Community Supported Agriculture
Find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in your area. These are growers who offer a share of their production for an up-front fee. You receive fresh produce throughout the season while supporting a local farmer/producer. The South Plains Food Bank, through their GRUB program, has a CSA which allows teenagers to work at the farm and learn about growing food as well as earning money. There are other CSA’s available. We will share the information about other CSA’s as we learn about them.
We will keep looking at some of the different real food plans. But take a step today to begin your journey. Choose one meal a day and make it whole food. Plan some meals you can prepare for the week that will feed your body with nutritious healing foods. Discover how good real food tastes. Discover or rediscover cooking. Involve your family. Encourage everyone to choose and prepare the foods. Eat as a family without distractions. Connect. Get away from the worst diet in the world. Find a moment of peace.
For more information about CSA’s and the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists, visit our website at www.westtexasorganicgardening.com