It’s something we all need. That surrounds us. That fills us.
It is an indispensable part of our lives. One that, for most of human history, was revered and honoured. In times of scarcity, people have starved. Even in times and areas of abundance, most of people’s lives revolved around acquiring and preparing this most basic necessity.
It was the difference between health and sickness. Between life and death.
A World of Plenty
Today, at least in the western world, abundance is something we no longer question. We don’t live day to day. We have no fear of hunger. We are wealthy, and food is cheap. Our poor are always fed. Even those who will not work, eat.
Food has become something we don’t think about, beyond what variety our tastes desire. Few of us are directly connected to its production – we don’t farm, or fish, or hunt, or grow. We don’t carefully select it for its life-giving properties, certainly not keeping in mind our stage of life or state of health, and how that affects our requirements. Most of the time, we don’t even put ingredients together. We don’t bake it, or cook it, or chop it. We order it from a menu. We pick it up in plastic packages, in convenient snack sizes. We pour it out of a can.
Food and Ceremony
The true importance of food in our lives has been relegated to the sidelines. Our ceremonies consist of turkey and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, chocolate for Valentine’s Day – and Easter – and bags of candy on Halloween. We forego complicated traditions like Passover meals. We eat our foods out of season, rarely knowing or caring what those seasons are. We’ve forgotten that spring butter used to be brought to churches as an offering.
We don’t pray before we eat.
But for all this casting off of formalities and ceremony, our relationship with food, instead of being simplified, is more complicated than ever.
Relationship Status: It’s Complicated
We may enjoy it, even love it, but it does not love us back. We can choose to ignore its flaws, but they will not ignore us. We can hate it for what it does to us, making us sick and tired and fat and weak, but go back to it again and again. We can get so fed up that we avoid it altogether, but only for so long.
Because we have changed food itself. We don’t know where it comes from, because it has been warped and twisted so far from its original form by the time it enters our homes that it is unrecognizable. And those changes have also rendered it toxic. What should give us life has become something dangerous.
It may nourish, but it also kills.
Chronic Disease: The Modern-Day Plague
Eczema Allergies Asthma Autoimmune disorders
Diabetes Heart disease Cancer
Anxiety Depression Migraines Eating disorders
We are finally waking up to the fact that the diseases that plague modern society are not separate from what we consume.
We cannot put garbage into our bodies, and expect them to function the way they were designed to. Just like you can’t put crappy gasoline into a truly expensive car (not something owned by myself, or anyone in my circle of acquaintances, but I hear that such people exist) unless you want that car to break down. As a student of the human body, I can assure anyone who is doubtful, that your body is more complicated and intricately designed than any machine mankind has built, by orders of magnitude.
Your body is resilient. It can withstand incredible stressors, and even heal itself – but it also has specific requirements. And unless those requirements are met, it will show signs of neglect and abuse. It will deteriorate more quickly than it should. It will lose its normal capabilities.
It will be angry.
Health: A Myth?
Some of us are blessed. These people can imbibe whatever they want, with no apparent ill effects. The skinny girls who chow down on pizza. The smokers who live to be one hundred. Basketball stars who live on McDonald’s.
Everyone is different. People exist on a spectrum. Some people’s bodies are sensitive to things that most of us can easily shrug off. And the things that hurt most of us will also leave a few unscathed. But I don’t think those people are as common as we think. Because we don’t see everything. That smoker may live to a ripe old age, but you don’t know what his sperm count was, in his younger years. You probably won’t be keeping track of that basketball star’s blood pressure when he hits his fifties. And that skinny girl may be throwing up.
It’s rare to find anyone who is perfectly healthy, these days. Behind the masks, and the walls, and the impeccably clean front rooms, people are a mess.
We Need Better
The good news is, it can get better.
People are starting to remember – that it wasn’t always this way. That food used to be as nourishing as it was delicious. That it was meant to be a blessing, not a curse.
We’re starting to take responsibility. We are taking back control of what goes into our bodies. We are thinking more deeply about what we feed our children.
And this is a good thing. We’re in quite a mess, but we can get out of it. It’s not going to be easy, but it will certainly be worthwhile.
Food As Medicine
I’m a big believer in the healing power of food. Because I believe our bodies were made to be healthy. They want to be healthy. And if we give them what they need, I think we will be astounded by what they can do.
Time to start eating.