Turn and face the strange…
So I blame my son. He has been kind enough to let us share his sign in for NetFlix and Beloved has been watching documentaries. Lots of them. On a variety of subjects, but many of them are about food. And he is (justly) inspired and eager to try some of these new ideas about eating in our own diet. Me, I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all. Raw food, Vegan agendas, making juice, eating 6 times a day. Good grief. As I told him, I’m NOT spending my whole day in the kitchen. Oh and green products for cleaning. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
Part of the problem is that I do agree with him on a great deal of these changes. We need to eat organic–in fact, if you didn’t know, here’s the hierarchy for buying your food, especially produce: organic over non-organic. Local over imported organic. Local organic trumps all. Pastured beef, pork and poultry, including eggs. Organic meats are not necessarily the same as pastured; organic means they can’t pump them full of antibiotics and they’re probably not all piled on top of each other. Pastured means that animal walked and grazed, you know, like back in the olden days, before industrial food. In other words, the animal is eating what it was designed to consume, making it healthier and therefore better for you.
Beloved has been a sponge, absorbing lots of information. Most of it good, some of it questionable, some of it … well, not agreed to. After much discussion and negotiation, here’s what we’re going to do add, one small step at a time–because trying to add it all at once makes it unsustainable. And this is about sustainability–both for us, in our habits of eating, and in the foods we eat being sustainable and healthy in their production and (lack of) processing. We are going to eat more raw food, aiming for 51% of our food (by weight) to be raw or at least not heated above 110 degrees. This does not include just fruits and vegetables. We are both very fond of sushi and rare beef (even to the extreme of steak tartar) so there will be some raw animal flesh in our diet. We have a juicer now (thanks to his mother, who got it as a gift and never used it), so we will make juice out of the vegetables we cannot consume in sufficient quantities to get the nutrition from them, such as leafy greens. Beloved has a problem with leafy greens because of his lap band surgery. The idea is to juice the vegetables and then use that as the liquid in the Vitamix blender, adding fruit for a more nutritionally complete smoothie that is easier to drink than one made all in the blender, which has been too thick from all the pulp.
The pulp that we are separating out with the juicer can be used as an additive in cooking, or I can just compost it, so all that rich plant matter does not go to waste! And we will benefit from all the nutrition that is in the juice, which we have not been getting. We’re looking more closely now at vitamins and minerals, in addition to things like protein, carbs and fat counts. We take a multivitamin because we’re not getting all of our nutrition from our food–in fact, no one is. The food we eat today is nutritionally deficient to the same types of food from 1950. Why? Because of industrialization and commercial preparation of most of our foods. Let’s talk about this for a moment.
99% of all the corn grown in this country is NOT eaten by us. It’s also not shipped overseas to be eaten by any human. Instead, it’s processed. And processed. And processed. Into things like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Xanthan gum, ascorbic acid, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, caramel and caramel color, polyvinyl acetate, stearic acid, and so on. Hundreds of products, not many of them look like food. But they are IN your food. If you really want to freak out about corn, watch “King Corn”, a documentary that will make you flip. And stop eating corn products. You CAN eat CORN–but it must at least look like what we all think corn looks like, or obviously come from corn, like pop corn, tortilla chips and etc.
Monsanto (http://www.monsanto.com/Pages/default.aspx) is quietly genetically modifying all kinds of foods–and has been for years–without any idea what that will do in the long run. It’s more about making produce that won’t spoil before getting to market, plants growing to a uniform size with uniform sized fruit or vegetables so that they can be commercially (mechanically) picked and handled. Like the long stemmed roses you buy, you get one thing but not two–the roses have long gorgeous stems, beautiful flowers…and NO smell. So these genetically modified foods are also lacking, usually in taste and often in both taste and nutrition. Most of Europe refuses to have Monsanto products and in fact, Poland has completely banned them–but here in the US, most consumers don’t even know who they are and how very much they are affecting our health.
So let’s look at the average American’s circle of life:
1. The agribusiness, industrialized farms produce fruits and vegetables that are deficient in many nutrients. They are sprayed with petrochemical pesticides and weed killers; in fact, some of the plants themselves have been genetically modified to exude pesticides from every surface (which in at least one case has led to human male sterilization after ingestion of same). They are harvested by machine without regard to optimum ripeness, shipped distances and kept long enough that any nutrition they might have had is generally gone before they are sold.
2. The industrialized meat production is worse. Animals are packed together in spaces so small that they must be mutilated (chickens have the top half of their beak cut off; pigs have the tips of their tails removed) to avoid damage from attacks from their neighbor. This closeness increases the incident of disease, so that 80% of ALL the antibiotics made in the US are given to animals. It is in the meat and we ingest it, increasing OUR resistance to various antibiotics and we wonder why. The animals live a life of squalor and torment and are killed in a state of terror, which floods their bodies with all kinds of chemicals, affecting the taste of the meat–and the nutrition it might–MIGHT–have.
3. This industrialized is sent to factories for further processing into convenience foods, or shipped to your local grocery store. Either way, when you buy it, you have no idea how much nutrition it really has, what other chemicals it might contain, and what it is going to do to your body if you consume it. Americans also have no idea what real serving portions look like, so are generally eating way more of this stuff than they are supposed to.
4. You cook dinner or you eat out. You try to be healthy by having a vegetarian or even vegan diet, but you’re still buying stuff that is industrially produced. And then you can’t explain why you feel tired all the time, why you’re always sick, why you’re fat or not losing weight…well, the next bit is going to make you scream!
Everybody lives with stress, right? What does stress do to your body? Apart from the obvious things we all know, stress and the “fight or flight mode” we all tend to live under destroys your body’s vitamin C. NO WONDER we all get sick! So to counter stress, take mega doses of Vitamin B-3 (Niacin) and MEGA doses of Vitamin C. I mean mega, above and beyond the RDA, like 2 or 3 times the amount at least. You CANNOT overdose on Vitamin C. Large amounts of niacin can cause flushing, like hot flashes from menopause, so go easier with that. Just try it for a week and tell me I’m not right.
We have found it makes a difference, and Beloved’s sister bought her vitamins on Sunday and then texted him on Monday that she didn’t think it would work that fast. Just saying.
We had already made the switch to organic and pastured food wherever possible. Adding raw is less of a problem for me, who was subsisting on veggies in a bento box long before we met…HE, on the other hand, will have to learn to eat them. Leafy greens as mentioned are a problem; other certain vegetables can be an issue as well so it will be a lot of trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t. We’re also looking into spirulina (blue-green algae) as an additive, plus hemp powder and flax seed/oil. I have discovered that he will eat chopped salads, regardless of what is exactly in them. (Made one with chopped zucchini, onions, tomatoes and an Oriental style dressing). He and I both will eat summer squashes (zucchini, yellow) that are hot but NOT cooked–so stir fries and barely steamed. I don’t mind winter squashes (pumpkin, acorn, butternut) cooked and mashed. I also like root vegetables (turnips, rutabaga, parsnips) either raw or cooked and mashed. Now I’ll have to figure out how to sauce them to add interest and variety for us to eat them.
We’re eating Raw Revolution bars and prefer the lemon flavored one. One of them can serve as a snack; two would be a meal. Probably the single largest change for Beloved will be learning what is really a serving. He has years of his mother serving a large plate, filled with protein and carbs, with a small little plop of vegetables (that he often wouldn’t eat since she cooks everything until it’s beyond dead). He’s discovering that 3 or 4 large scallops are actually a serving and that 1/4 pound of salmon is, when presented properly, almost more than he can eat. (Meat portions should be 3 or 4 ounces or the size of a deck of playing cards). So we are going to try to live with a more Japanese approach to food: small plates, measured portions, more fish then meat. (Side note: yes, the fish costs more, but you are buying less. 6 – 8 ounces of good quality fish, depending on what kind and we like tuna and salmon, runs between $7 and $20 per pound. So even at $10 for 6 – 8 ounces of the most expensive, it’s actually only $5 per person and that makes it incredibly cheaper than buying that same fish if someone else cooks it for you. And it’s healthier.)
We are also using the European shopping method–although we’re not going quite daily on what we need for that day’s meals, but we will be shopping for less items more often, to ensure that we’re getting fresh fresh fresh! This serves a dual purpose–aside from getting food, we will have impetus to shower and dress and go out more often. It’s very easy to just sit around in your robe day after day without realizing that’s what is happening. So having to go out to forage will be a valuable part of our stated desire to walk more.
I did say that we would talk about green cleaning products. The documentary to watch for this is called “Chemerical” and it convinced us that getting rid of commercial cleaning products would benefit us, especially me with my fibro. It’s an accepted fact that housewives have a 54% higher rate of cancer than other groups–because of all the contact they have with those household cleaners. I was a stay at home mom for 13 years, so I’ve had my share of exposure. Beloved believes that if we can reduce the chemicals, both in our food and in our environment, we can reduce the inflammations of my disease, perhaps even to the point where I might not require medication and wouldn’t that be amazing?
I will leave it to you to do the Internet research for more information about green cleaning products, but I will tell you what supplies you need, to make your own and you’re going to be shocked when you see how simple it is:
White and Cider Vinegars
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
20 Mule Team Borax (by Dial Corporation)
Isopropyl Alcohol (Disinfectant/Sterilization)
Hydrogen Peroxide (Mold and mildew killer)
Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
Liquid Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
Tea Tree essential oil (Disinfectant; kills virus, germs and fungus)
*Optional: Lavender, lemon and/or peppermint essential oils
From those things you can make each product you need to clean everything in your house, including you and your clothes. I have already begun with a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar as a spray kitchen cleaner. It does not leave a vinegar smell, which I thought it would, and everything I wipe is amazingly clean and smooth. I am using liquid castile soap to do the dishes and they are really “squeaky” clean, with no detergent haze. I am using the borax/washing soda/salt mixture for the dishwasher and putting white vinegar into the rinse aid receptacle. It’s doing a bang up job. I can hardly wait to make the laundry soap.
I know I sound like a hippy convert, but…we did just fine back in the day with the natural ways of growing our food and cleaning our house. There’s too much money in industrial food, industrial cleaners and the healthcare BUSINESS for the corporations to be concerned with minor things like nutrition, sustainability and keeping us healthy. Far more money can be made if we stay sick than if they cure what ails us. Fibromyalgia is a relatively new disease, and there are other diseases that we never heard of before the Industrial Age…why is our country, with its ability to grow food, the pollution laws that limit what companies can put into the environment, why is our country filled with sick people? Have you LOOKED at the size of the medication aisles in any store? Lots of things to treat your cold or your allergies, but no cures. Why not? All this time scientists have had…where is the cure for the common cold, for AIDS, for diabetes…oh, that’s right. Not enough money is curing, much more to be made in treating. Have a pill.
So we’re making our choices, one step at a time. I feel better when I’ve had my niacin then when I haven’t. I like the idea of cleaning the house with products that won’t send me into asthma attacks (like chlorine does). We’ll try all the things he’s learned about and we’ll keep the ones that work for us. And do you have any idea how completely pissed I will be if I could come off of my meds while I am in my own home because my nutrition is correct and I’m not breathing in volatile compounds from cleansers? If it’s the industrial world around me that’s making me sick? If it’s the industrial world that’s making all of us sick–and we don’t have to be except that someone, somewhere is getting rich off of it?
Sorry, don’t mean to rant but it’s dreadful to think that somehow there is this conspiracy to keep us fat dumb and happy–and ill. I can only do what I can for myself and share this blog with you so that you can, perhaps, choose for yourself a better way–not even necessarily MY way, but to know that there are options and choices for how to treat your fibro, things you can do that may make you feel better and isn’t that worth it? This does require a commitment to being even more hyper aware of what’s going into us, adding being aware of what’s going on around us and generally choosing to live a life that is healthy, sustainable and makes us happy.
Namaste, and I hope you find what makes you happy!