American environmentalist and author and what he has to say about FOOD ETHICS and the DYING ART OF EATING in our modern world: the global OBESITY EPIDEMIC and why you should be listening to grandma.
Rule 1. “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”
FAT AND NOT HAPPY: Where did we go wrong? How did we lose our sense of healthy eating and cooking that have sustained humans for thousands of years?
Rule 2 “If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t”
OBESITY: Almost every day we hear and read news stories about the epidemic of obesity that is sweeping the world and with it associated health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Elizabeth Farrelly (Sydney Morning Herald July 21 2011) wrote about the aptly named doughnut effect in Sydney where the spike in obesity and diabetes was affecting the poorer outer suburbs – forming a fat circle around the more affluent inner city ones – which were largely untouched.
CONVERSELY, the more affluent burgeoning middle classes of the emerging economies, like China and India, have in the last ten years seen an average 25% rise in obesity and with it diabetes.
In India, since 2000, 100 million people have become fat who were not fat before – a population the size of Germany! (BBC World Service Health Check)
“This is the most serious medical and economic crisis that is affecting the whole world. Our systems will not be able to cope with the pressures put upon it” Elizabeth Farrelly
Rule 3 “Don’t get your petrol and food from the same place”
Rule 4 “Eat FOOD. Not too much. Mostly Plants”
MOST OF THE BLAME CAN BE LAID, FAIRLY AND SQUARELY, AT THE INDUSTRIALISATION OF OUR DIET.For the past sixty years we have been led a merry dance by the food industry, agog at all the claims they have been making about what kind of diet is good for us and hijacking the fundamentals of good nutrition.
ALL OF OUR UNCERTAINTIES ABOUT NUTRITION should not obscure the plain fact that chronic diseases, that now kill most of us, can be traced directly to the industrialization of food: the rise of highly processed foods and refined grains, the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in huge monocultures, the superabundance of cheap calories in sugar and fat produced by modern agriculture, and the narrowing of the biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops, NOTABLY WHEAT, CORN and SOY.
Where is the life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
Choruses from The Rock (1934) T.S. Eliot
FACT: Woolworths and Coles supermarkets currently have an 82% share of the food market sales in Australia.
ON A RECENT VISIT TO SYDNEY I VISITED MY CHILDREN’S OLD PUBLIC SCHOOL and was thrilled that they had achieved what I had tried to do 25 years ago – created a kitchen garden, installed a kitchen for them to cook in AND introduced gardening and cooking into the curriculum – Yeh!!…..………….
TURNING BACK THE TIDE: My unsung hero number 2 (Michael Pollan is number one!) is Australian chef/cookbook writer/ school food garden guru – Stephanie Alexander – a modern day Queen Canute. Almost single handedly she has turned the tide with her food gardening/cooking school’s programme which has been running since 2001. WHY DID SHE DO THIS? BECAUSE SHE WAS WORKING WITH TRAINEE CHEFS, in her restaurant, THAT DIDN’T KNOW HOW A BEAN GREW OR WHEN and HOW YOU HARVESTED IT. This store of knowledge – that was fundamental to those of us who grew up with family who grew stuff – seems to be bypassing the younger generation.
FACT: One can of soft drink has an average of TEN teaspoonfuls of sugar. This is converted to fat in the body.
IF WE WANT OUR CHILDREN, AND THEIRS, TO BE HEALTHY AND HAPPY – THEN THEY HAVE TO LEARN ABOUT GROWING THEIR OWN FOOD AND HOW TO COOK IT. This is where most the community/school gardens I have worked with, over the past 25 years, have ultimately failed – NO harvesting/recipes/cooking/eating element was included in the grand design.
TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL: Our town has recently had an almighty battle on its hands to keep Woolworth’s out – we lost. I found out today that Woolworth’s had been up to my granddaughters’ primary school doing a PR spiel and offering free apples – sounds like the wicked stepmother in Snow White to me! Resist this kind of insidious bribery.
Rule 5 “It’s not food if arrived through the window of your car
EDIBLE EXTINCTION: Over the past 50 years, the monopolisation and genetic modification of our food crops by the major supermarkets in Australia, have led to a decline in fresh food varieties by 70%. Apart from the utter sadness of this loss, it does not bode well as our climate changes. Crops from their stores – like pineapples and potatoes have been modified with growth retardants TO PREVENT YOU FROM BEING ABLE TO GROW ANOTHER CROP FROM THEM. This is just the tip of this insidious and evil iceberg. I cover these topics more extensively in other posts. My Subversive Plot – My Garden
THE PLASTIC HABIT We are drowning in a sea of plastic and waste that is choking our seas and killing our planet – and it is mainly being driven by the industrialised food industry – just one more negative impact of our changing diets. The Plastic Habit
Rule 6 We need to complete the circle of life by seeking the shortest route between the earth, the hand and the mouth. (That’s mine!)
ORGANIC FOOD GARDENING, NUTRITION and COOKING should be part of every school curriculum. Armed with this knowledge we can make more informed decisions about what we put in our mouths and ultimately take responsibility for our own health and well-being.