The Big Picture
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
When it comes to our health, what is the one area we all have control over? It is not the doctor or annual tests, the area of the country or world you live in, the church you may or may not frequent. What all of us have complete control over is how we spend our income and the lifestyle, food, and water that make up our daily lives. For me, this all comes down to the understanding and use of one word.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
1: capable of being sustained
2 a: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged sustainable techniques sustainable agriculture
b: of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods
Over the last twenty years, small communities have begun reclaiming local food with the resurgence of farmers’ markets, local bakeries, and CSAs (community supported agriculture). When we look at the history of food movements like fusion (the combining of different cultural foods into one) and diet trends such as the plant-based movement, perspective comes into play. Some of this is good and other aspects not so much — for example, the current plant-based diet movement. Many people embrace a vegetarian or vegan diet for their health and ideologies. Often it helps individuals lose weight and lower cholesterol, and increases the volume of healthy vegetables consumed. The latter is really what makes the difference in our health. On the flip side – going vegetarian may not be a sustainable approach due to genetics, lifestyle, source, and access.
If you have risk factors for type 2 diabetes, Alzheimers, Parkinsons and nerve disorders, a plant-based diet can increase the likelihood of developing these conditions. However, the increase of vegetables with quality fats and protein decrease risk factors. It has to do with the type of fats, inflammation-causing compounds and upregulation SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism). So your health will not be sustainable when consuming industrial vegetarian foods, like Beyond Meat, soy noodles, soy milk, Baca Burgers, or Soylent meal replacement. It isn’t because of organic classification, but because of primary nutrient makeup. No matter how hard the tech-industry tries, these synthetic foods do not contain the same nutrients, co-factors, and natural processes found in foods from nature, such as beef, lamb, pork and wild game. Poultry has out passed beef in the last three years; however, it is false to think poultry is a complete protein or that it is better for the environment.
We have learned through modern science, what foods made up cultural diets from the first ice age to 1950. Until world war 2, regional and local foods were the norm, even within cities; produce, milk, butter, fish and fruits came from regional sources.
Locally produced foods contain the minerals and microbiome of the area they are grown in. They are adapted to local environment cycles, and the overall nutrient content of local foods is higher and safer than those shipped in from neighboring states or countries. Almost every food recalled in the last 10 years for listeria, salmonella, or E-Coli, plastic and glass contamination, have been produced at mega-farms or factories.
When we buy from factory farms, we have no control over the quality of the food or where it comes from, and our money ends up in the hands of foreign businesses. There was a 24% increase in farm bankrupts in 2019, but at the same time, more young individuals started up small permaculture farms. Currently, big industry players in food are not American corporations, and our foods produced in America is shipped to China for processing. A sure avenue for contamination from heavy metals, plastic, chemicals, and more.
It isn’t the Cows; it is the How. I love this statement from Diana Rodgers at the Sustainable Dish. When pioneers settled the plains and west coast, massive herds of herbivores groomed and tended the soil. Herbivores have been part of our environment and responsible for the health of grasslands, prairies, and forest fringe since the Cenozoic era. We have eaten herbivores from the dawn of time.
Our diet has lost diversity in content, nutrients, and microbiome over that from pre-world war 2. Now synthetic foods are running over traditional food sources. When we make one small change in our food and lifestyle habits, we can stop the stampede.
To real food and sustainable lifestyles.
- Research Milestones for MS and Autoimmune patients: By Wahls Team https://terrywahls.com/research-milestones-for-ms-and-autoimmune-patients/
- Sustainable Dish by Diana Rodgers, RD: https://sustainabledish.com/
- Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term, 2018: https://www.uni-bonn.de/news/010-2018
- Processed Sugars vs. Natural Sugars: What’s the Difference?, 2017: http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/moore/processed-vs-natural-sugar/
- NIH study finds heavily processed foods cause overeating and weight gain, 2019: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-finds-heavily-processed-foods-cause-overeating-weight-gain
- The Debate Over the Health Effects of Food Processing by Colby Vorland, 2017: https://nutrition.org/the-debate-over-the-health-effects-of-food-processing/
- The Economic Impact of Locally Produced Food, 2017: https://www.stlouisfed.org/on-the-economy/2017/december/economic-impact-locally-produced-food
- The Local Food Movement as A Catalyst for Community by Tobias Roberts, 2017: https://permaculturenews.org/2017/08/22/local-food-movement-catalyst-community/