So, it turns out health and diet are directly related. Who knew?! (sarcasm). But, seriously, we live in a world where nearly every foreign thing is at hand for us to consume, from toys to furniture: then there’s food. We eat bananas from South America, rice from India, coffee from Africa, and grains from the other side of the country. Now, my conclusion is becoming more and more based on locale, rather than type. In other words, though a diet filled mainly by bread and cookies would never be healthy, there’s a major nutritional difference between a Newman’s Own creme filled cookie and a home baked oatmeal raisin made from neighborhood dairy cow butter and locally harvested and freshly milled grains. They’re just not equal cookies.
I can’t summarize in words the connection our bodies have with the food we consume, I also can’t eat a diet that doesn’t include some of these ‘foreign’ foods–at least not immediately. While the ‘local food’ movement is growing and the awareness of the economical importance of reinvesting in our own community helps, it’s really only half the point. We need to eat from our own environment because it’s balance. We dress for the weather in our environment, we build houses out of the materials found in our environment (at least we should probably try to do that more as well), we grow things in our own gardens that will grow in this environment…
What it is that I think we’re getting wrong is very well represented in a popular specialty grocery store that most people (including me) really love (it’s a national chain, but I can’t bring myself to name names). Though I wish there were one in my own community, I’d venture to say that there may be just one random piece of fruit that is from inside a 200mile radius; the majority of their products are an unnatural part of my life in terms of local production. Nearly everything is imported from somewhere and then distributed from somewhere nearly as far away. Terms like ‘organic’, ‘natural’, ‘free-range’ can only do so much–they can only be truly meaningful on a specific level. They are better than their counterparts, certainly. But, are they the best standard?
A great example of this that most folks agree on: Honey. As beekeepers we know that there are many many people who go out of their way to buy and consume raw, local honey. With good reason: if you can get your hands on this stuff it has a myriad of health benefits as compared to typical grocery honey because of what’s in it–bits and pieces of your local environment (not just sugar water or pollen from acres of gmo orange blossoms). Consuming it toughens you to your local allergens and it’s rawness keeps the microorganisms that keep bees healthy (and you) alive. Now, it’s GOT to be the same for more than just honey. Like milk–definitely milk. Meat? Veggies? Grains? Somewhere the statements turn into questions.
This is heavy. It’s big. While I can’t see myself quitting my daily cup of joe, I have to think harder about what it means. Perhaps pouring in the local-grass fed-dairy milk will help counter balance. Thinking about all this puts into perspective how far our society has come–or gone, from its roots. I honestly have no idea where to buy local grains. I’d love to grow my own, but realistically right now, that’s not going to happen. Milling them has been on my mind, but eating this way requires so much! And local meat? Even the options at the farmer’s market are driven from 100 miles away. Can you imagine how people lived 2 centuries ago? They followed eating a meal with preparing for the next. Let’s not get into clothing, blankets, woodchopping…
And back to bread, which I personally am not ready to eliminate. What is this thing called ‘yeast’ found at the closest grocers? If we were using the cultures in the air around us, wouldn’t that help us balance our health? I don’t know if we can reverse the hands of time and get back to this. I know that bananas will continue to be served in our home, but it is so much to consider. (All this reminds me of the promise for ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’. Now, Israel seems like a place that could probably grow most anything from chocolate to avocados to apples and pecans).
I’m putting it all out there because I’d love feedback and suggestions and input and if you have a good resource, proof to the contrary! All families have their own dietary restrictions and preferences whether for health or ethics. What are yours?
*title coined my dear friend ange–but, I like the positive spin. Now what can I put on it?!