The speed of life: how we relate to our food.

Time sure flies, doesn’t it?  How did I get this old?  I look in the mirror and am amazed that inside I still feel  twenty six, but outside I look every bit of my forty (uh…) ish years.  And it keeps getting faster and faster.  I’ve satisfactorily explained this phenomenon to myself in terms of a mathematical theory involving ratios. It works like this. The amount of time we have been alive is directly proportional to the speed of time.   So in my head I understand it, but in my heart it’s still a mystery.  Why does time fly?  Why can’t I slow it down?

It seems to get worse the older I get.  This should be obvious as per my theory, but I believe it is also related to our new love/hate relationship with technology.  I mean, one hundred years ago, and for ages before that, when you needed to speak to someone who lived far away, you wrote them a letter.  And then you waited hopefully until they responded by mail to hear their reply.  Often the mail was at the whim of weather or war, and depending on how far away they were, you might wait weeks or months to hear from them.  Fifty years ago you picked up the party line and politely asked the operator to connect you through to whomever you were trying to reach, and hoped that Mrs. Miller from down the street  was not only not using the phone, but that she wouldn’t listen in on  your conversation.  And then you waited till they came to the phone.  Now what?  If someone doesn’t respond to your text within a few minutes, it’s not only bad form, but it’s highly irritating.  You might even feel like you are being ignored. How dare they!  Humph!

Technology has cracked our world open and united us in ways we haven’t begun to understand.  We have more immediate access to anything on the planet than ever before in the history of mankind.  Information, ideas and products are all at our fingertips in seconds, or in our homes within a matter of days.  This brings with it a host of reactions; socially, biologically, functionally, economically and emotionally.  Good for us, on many levels, but bad for us, I think, in more ways than one.

The way in which it concerns me, and what I attempt to address, is the way in which we are related to our food.  What and how we eat has changed more in the last one hundred years than it has changed in the last 5 million years.  And that is affecting who we are, what we do and how we feel.  It would be absurd to assume that biological evolution can keep up with the speed of technological evolution.  Eighty five million years of walking upright and we are essentially the same size and shape.  We eat, we poop, and our organs function in much the same way.  Yet in only 30 years our sociological environment has changed so fast that our bodies can’t keep up.   We are already learning that listening to noise with ear buds can alter the development of the growing ear drum, and that typing on a computer keyboard for hours a day can destroy the finely made insides of the carpel tunnels in our wrists.  We know that spending too much time looking at small print materials will negatively affect the shape of our eyeballs and that breathing particulates from certain manmade toxins will cause lumps to grow in our lungs.  The way we relate to our environment, as a culture, is harming us.  And yet we continue to assume that all food is good food, and the more the better.

The government isn’t helping us, either.  The Food and Drug Administration has taken on the role of dietary counselor for the nation, and they seem to be the last ones to get on board with healthy trends.  While they are currently advocating more whole grains and lower fat, which is good on some levels, they refuse to address the issues of where our food comes from, what is hidden in it, and how it was produced.

I am not a doctor, a nutritionist or even a dietitian, and lay claim to no professional insight into the working of human metabolism, agribusiness, food economics or any other thing.   My techniques, theories and insights are based on common sense and basic civic morality, as well as my experience cooking with whole, natural and healthful foods.  This blog is an introduction to moral, healthful eating and a place to start on the journey to become responsible for the things we put in our mouths.

There are plenty of very detailed books that explain how sugars, proteins and carbohydrates work in the body, describe which nutrients are best for us and why.  There are insightful books that explain in detail the multitude of reasons we should eat mostly food from our own area.   There are many books and documentaries that show how and why the American meat industry is bad for America, bad for Americans and downright disgusting and immoral.   All of these should be explored and internalized when choosing a method for your style of eating.   I hope here to lend support to a method that is based on the principles of eating locally, eating seasonally, and therefore living sustainably.  Look for more about these issues, and recipes that support them,  in the weeks that follow.

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