Where Does Your Food Come From?

What I've discovered over decades of continuing education as a health practitioner, is that this is really the most important question for your health. We eat and drink throughout every day of our lives and food is literally what keeps us alive and going. So why do we not make choices related to this truth?

Through all the years of counseling as a registered dietitian, I always felt that there was an important missing ingredient to what I was teaching around nutrition. It wasn't until I discovered Permaculture while traveling through Australia, that I found it. I moved from caring about calories and fat, to soil biology and pasture stewardship. The ecosystems that our food live and grow in.

CSA volunteer crew for Farmer & the Cook Organic Market/Del Pueblo Farm, Ojai, CA

CSA volunteer crew for Farmer & the Cook Organic Market/Del Pueblo Farm, Ojai, CA

The above picture here shows where a lot of my food comes from, along with Rainbow Bridge Natural Grocer, Watkins Butcher Shop (from their family run, local, grass fed beef ranch), goat milk/eggs/fruit from friends, as well as herbs, veggies and fruit growing at my home. I rarely eat out these days because eating in is soooo good. That's right, it's not just good for me, it's the best tasting food I've ever eaten.

What I've discovered is that if you source your food really well by finding the very best quality, where the farmer/rancher care as much about their plants/animals as they do their family and profits, you end up with ingredients that will always make an amazing meal. You won't even need to try and cook it perfectly or worry about seasoning. It will be good all by itself. You'll feel comfortable and satiated with less volume.  And when you combine all these exceptionally sourced ingredients, you get an array of "out of this world" kind of flavor experiences. Oh and it happens to be really good for you too, even the fat. 

Why?

Because we are only as healthy as the plant/animals that we are getting our nourishment from. When the plant or animal's health improves, nutrition profiles improve, like an increase in omega 3 fatty acids in pastured beef, and increases in phytochemicals and antioxidants in organic produce, because phytochemicals for example, are essentially an indication of a thriving plant: more vibrant flavors, colors, fragrance as well as protection from insects and disease (now that's something we all could use more of, eh?).

If you really look, it's easy to tell a very healthy plant, animal or environment from an ill one. The following photos are examples of this dichotomy. 

Are you eating these chickens and eggs?

Are you eating these chickens and eggs?

Or these?

Or these?

Is your beef from here?

Is your beef from here?

Or is your burger coming from here?

Or is your burger coming from here?

Do you get your Produce from here?

Do you get your Produce from here?

Or here? This is what Strawberry Fields Forever really looks like

Or here? This is what Strawberry Fields Forever really looks like

Would perhaps chickens in sunshine, fresh air, digging in the ground, eating bugs and a variety of vegetation be healthier compared to ones raised in a concentration camp?  I'm not trying to shock you or try to get you to stop eating meat, but there is no better description of the way the majority of the chicken (broilers) are being raised these days (pigs as well). They are in an unhealthy, unnatural environment for their short life span which is why they require pharmaceuticals as part of their daily diet to keep from getting sick. They are genetically bred for big breasts and faster growth because thats what most people like and what keeps the costs down. This is the most efficient system which allows them to pass savings on to us.

Is It Worth It?

To the giant food conglomerates it is, because it correlates to big money, and weeds out the smaller competition. But why are we not seeing these issues in the mainstream media? Advertising dollars and lobbying protect their interests and secrets. It is actually illegal to take pictures of feedlots, pig or chicken barns, processing plants, or GMO crops. Why is that? Because the public would be outraged at the sight of any of it. It's nothing like what you see on the marketing displays.

I never understood why Genetically Modified Food producers don't want labels. You think they would be proud of their innovative foods, but they want it to stay hidden for some reason. Probably because, if there was a clear correlation of the negative effects on our health, then they would suffer the lawsuits and bad press that comes with it. Instead, they've lobbied and achieved substantial equivalence, which allows their patented corn, soy and other crops to have the same labeling as any naturally grown corn, soy and other products. It's marketing and regulatory skirting brilliance on their part. You get the benefits of patenting, which keeps anyone from saving seeds from a plant for the first time...ever. This allows them to claim ownership of crops that have accidentally contaminated or cross-pollinated other fields. And with substantial equivalence, they don't have to worry about the long term environmental and health study impacts.

How is this happening?

Their biggest way of skirting bad press is essentially stating that genetic modification is just a more precise and accelerated version of natural selection in plant breeding. Though this is one way of using genetic engineering technology, this is clearly not the real problem. The problem is when there is modification with genes from completely different species. Yes there is something un-natural about inserting genes from a natural insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis into corn or using tumor-enducing plant pathogenic bacteria like agrobacterium tumefaciens as the way to transport or rather "infect" the desired plant with the new "favorable" gene to create a desired outcome, like pest resistance. Even though these bacteria are not considered to be a threat to human health according to the FDA, what if there is an accumulative or combination affect or transgenic affect happening here that is creating allergies or disease over the long run? There is already plenty of research indicating a potential correlation, but to this date, there still have been no studies that show the effects on humans, because there have been no studies on humans,, only on animals. Might all this "low risk" potentially be part of the problem of why 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women, on average, develop some form of cancer in their lifetime according to the American Cancer Society. That's 50% of us men will have cancer in our lifetimes! Is this normal? And 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some form of autoimmune related disease, often times related to gut disorders - abnormal permeability in the intestinal wall. What affects our gut health more than food? Is there a correlation here? Is this all a part of the natural process of aging or are we maybe going the wrong direction with how we are focusing on food and health in America? 

You Are Your Only Hope

Time to get more curious about your food

Time to get more curious about your food

The only way to have optimal health, is to take full responsibility for it. It starts with nourishment, what your body needs to function. Here are some ways to begin re-connecting with your food.

I wish everyone raised their own chickens again. Talk to anyone that is doing it and they'll tell you they love it. Chickens are amazing. If only to re-connect with a species that has been feeding us so bountiful for so long. They deserve a good life, and so do we. 

I also wish everyone had a garden. Even a little herb garden would be easy and low maintenance. Growing some of your own food gives you a new perspective on the incredible progression of latent seed to fruiting plant that will touch your very soul. Everything tastes better fresh from the garden because it is grown with such care, is harvested at the most optimal time and is only feet from your palate instead of being shipped from 100's to 1000's of miles away.

The best option for buying food is to connect with our local food sources. Meet your Farmers by searching for a local CSA - Community Supported Agriculture or go to a Farmer's Market. Ask questions and visit their farms. If they don't allow, don't buy from them. 

Next find a Food COOP or Natural Food Store. We need these grocery stores for convenience and variety sake, but keep finding ways to source better and better foods.

Key words to look for when shopping:

  • produce/grains/nuts - organic, raw, fermented, pesticide free
  • beef, chicken, pork - grass fed, pasture raised, steroid/growth hormone & antibiotic free
  • fish line caught, sustainable

Simplest way of knowing

Don't worry about the Food Label Information, read the ingredients list. If you don't recognize it, don't buy it. If some form of sugar is within the first 4 ingredients, don't buy it. If it has any form of corn (syrup, oil, starch, flour) or soy (protein, lecithin) unless organic, pick something else.

Make sure each ingredient in that list is a recognizable food, herb or spice and you will notice a real difference in how your body feels within a few months. This is when you will get a sense of real vitality because you are giving your body what it really wants and needs and it will respond with starting to heal long standing issues or symptoms that never seem to go away. 

Some of the long standing issues related to food that I no longer have a problem with:

  • chronic sinus infections
  • joint pain
  • foot fungus
  • sensitive stomach
  • itchy scalp and dandruff
  • gingivitis

I have not been to a doctor, except once for a physical, in the last 10 years or more. My blood work was great, just a little low on B12. It made sense to me because I have been eating much less meat since I discovered much of the information I presented above. But instead of the B12 shot my doctor offered, I opted to head down to my local pastured meat butcher shop and for just a little over $1, I ordered a "sliver of liver", which is only about an ounce of liver which provides around 300% of the RDA for B12. Besides that, liver is high in protein, folate, iron and zinc, all nutrients that most people are commonly low in. You can get it combined in with your ground beef (just 10% liver) at a local butcher shop, so you don't even taste it! 

I'll get into more specifics around healing foods in later blogs, but in the meantime, keep learning so you keep growing...

 and stay out of this aisle :)

Notice any irony of correlation here?

Notice any irony of correlation here?

THE MOST IMPORTANT JOURNEY YOU CAN EVER TAKE

This is the Cave Stream Scenic Reserve near Arthur's Pass National Park, South Island, New Zealand. It is the best representation of the tremendous growth experience I've had since realizing that, as wonderful as my life was back in 2008, there was something very important missing. 

I wasn't sure what it was at the time, but knew I needed to figure it out. Coming to this realization is a pretty exciting proposition. I was ripe for it. I had just quit my job in Denver, CO to go on a 2 year travel around the world expedition with my love. I was going to do a nice mid-life re-evaluation instead of the common mid-life crisis so many men struggle through. I had it all, love, money, freedom, and time. I was ready for a real life, Jack Karouac type of adventure.

Be Careful What You Wish For

You can probably see the excitement I felt, slightly subdued by the fear of entering this epic cave stream adventure we had heard about from my close friend Kaila, who was living in Christchurch. It was an off day, so no one else was around. And though it wasn't raining, there were overcast clouds that made me wonder if quite possibly it was raining up in the high mountain headwater region for the stream, which is the one aspect that could turn a joyful cave exploration into a life threatening scenario. 

The reason I love these pictures, which I haven't revisited in many years, is that they feel like a close depiction of my experience of delving into my subconscious patterns, especially the dysfunctional ones. You know what I'm talking about. When we start asking ourselves the deep questions like: Why did I leave a perfectly amazing career, relationship, along with supportive friends/family in one of my favorite states (Colorado) that has always felt like home to me?

The simple answer.....because I had to.

Not because it's the only way, but some of us just need to lose it all to be able to truly see the difference between who we've been and who we really are. 

Stream of Consciousness

Notice the gentle stream flowing out of the deep dark hole, the Yin and Yang, light and dark, life and death representation. The dark hole represents my subconsciousness and the stream is the patterns in life that come from there. Sometimes these patterns create problems in our lives and the only way to shift them is to go to their source. This is where all the unanswered questions can be found. The only way to find the real answers, is to go through it. And by through it, I mean facing the greatest fears, patterns and limitations in our lives, and shifting everything so that there is no difference between conscious and subconscious patterns and we become great manifestors of our own experience.

When we master this, what we want will be what we get. We must learn that what we are doing is what keeps us from having what we want.

Subconscious patterns are our reactionary patterns that happen spontaneously without thought or process. Any time we feel threatened, uncomfortable, upset or highly stimulated, our predominant expression comes from here. These reactions/responses are based on instinct, life experience, and often times early childhood trauma that create hard to understand protection mechanisms that may have worked for us as children, but can have a sabotaging effect later in life. These are often seen through our subtle addictions. These dysfunctional patterns can create challenges in our relationships and workplace while keeping us from finding our bliss and flow in life. 

Turn On The Light

We don't really notice or can't even see how we are reacting or even what we are doing until we decide to turn on our little headlamps and start looking for where these dysfunctional patterns are coming from.  This discovery can be a most intense and challenging journey but any person who has ever embarked on it will tell you, it can be the most powerful, enlightening, invigorating and fulfilling experience. Going on this journey will make everything in your life better. Maybe not initially, but in due time. Due time is the work necessary to fully reveal, fully heal and become your most integrous self, where there is no discrepancy between who you say you are, what you do, how you live and who you want to be. 

The View From The Other Side

This is one of the best feelings you can ever have coming out the other side, the light at the end of the tunnel. It's up there with having a child, meeting the love of your life and knowing God, because it is all of that. You will feel reborn, in love with life, and connected to all that is, once you realize that you are in complete control of your life and how you live it through all the choices you make every single day, big or small. Of course there are unforeseen circumstances, aspects we will not have the ability to change, but how much they affect our overall health and happiness is our own doing. 

I've chosen this as my first post rather than something in the nutrition or exercise arena, because it is the most effective elixir available for reaching your greatest potential for health and vitality.

How do you begin? Ask for help in prayer and meditation. Everything you need will be revealed. The easiest way to start is with a breathing meditation. Find the most beautiful and quiet place you can. And just pay attention to your breath. Try to focus on nothing else. Let it be however it is, and just follow it for a few minutes. Then work on a deeper inhale and exhale for another few minutes. Then set an intention. Ask for something that you want to be different in life. Ask for the pathway, the perseverance and trust in the process. Know what you want, don't give up on it and do the work. It may not look exactly how you imagined it, or be how you expected it to be, but it will reveal a pathway to get there, and honestly, it will most likely turn out better than you expected. And the kicker? It works every time. 

If you are interested in more meditation guidance, Insight Timer has over 4,ooo free guided meditations of various durations and styles. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site - Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines

UNESCO World Heritage Site - Banaue Rice Terraces, Philippines